Several communities were overwhelmed by floodwaters as the latest in a catastrophic sequence of storms loomed over California on Tuesday, and a small boy was dragged off by sinkholes.
Over 110,000 homes and businesses lost power as a result of the torrential rain, lightning, hail, and landslides that also led nearly 50,000 people to be told to evacuate and millions of people to be subject to flood warnings.
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, asserted that at least 17 people had perished as a result of storms that began late last month during a visit to the lovely town of Capitola on the Santa Cruz coast, which was severely impacted by high surf and overflowing stream waters last week.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a biker and a pickup truck driver died on Tuesday morning after a eucalyptus tree fell on them on Highway 99 in the San Joaquin Valley near Visalia. According to Newsom, more people have died as a result of the present weather than have died in California’s two most recent devastating wildfire seasons. “These diseases are nasty and deadly.”
The storm that began on Monday poured more than a foot and a half (45 centimetres) of rain on Southern California’s mountains while burying the Sierra Nevada ski resorts beneath more than five feet (1.5 meters) of snow.
Landslides and rock falls shut major roads, while torrential runoff turned sections of highways into streams. Rivers were flooded, flooding people’s homes and trapping them there. Brian Briggs exclaimed, “We’re all stranded out here,” after the torrential downpour created mudslides in remote Matilija Canyon that completely buried one house and shut the only road to neighbouring Ojai.
Briggs related a horrific night when the neighbouring hills, which had been stripped of their foliage by the 2017 Thomas Fire, began to give way under their weight and the canyon creek began to flood people’s yards. He asserted that outhouses, gazebos, and sheds had been pulled into the creek by mudflows. He helped neighbours move to higher ground before going home and finding his fence destroyed by waist-deep mud.
When a chopper dropped 10 sheriff’s deputies to help the occupants of dozens of homes in the canyon on Tuesday, Briggs said he hoped to be airlifted out. Roaring waves crested the banks of Bear Creek and flooded portions of the city of Merced and the adjoining farming community of Planada, which is situated along a route leading to Yosemite National Park.
Cars were up to their roofs in neighbourhoods that had been submerged. Residents who were ordered to leave walked away in the rain with whatever they could salvage on their backs.
On Tuesday, a break in the weather on the central coast allowed searchers near San Miguel to look for Kyle Doan, the child who went missing after becoming stranded in a truck with his mother in rising waters. Kyle has washed away, but his mother was saved, and a seven-hour search on Monday yielded only one of his Nikes.
“It’s still very dangerous out there,” said Tony Cipolla, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office in San Luis Obispo County. “The creeks are very swift.”
The wet and windy weather threatened California’s large homeless population. At least two homeless people died in Sacramento County, and more than a dozen people were rescued from a homeless encampment on the Ventura River.
Since being released from jail in 2016, Theo Harris has been residing on the streets of San Francisco. After his girlfriend’s tent leaked, he took her in and strengthened his shelter with tarps and zip ties.
“The wind has been dangerous,” Harris said, “but all you have to do is bundle up and stay dry.” It does rain occasionally in life. The sky will be clear. Rain is expected. All I have to do now is buckle my boots and continue.
The storms have caused ”weather whiplash,” swinging from one extreme of an epic drought to the other, and they are coming with such force and frequency that they will undoubtedly cause problems well into next week.
The water content In the snowpack is more than double the average, according to the state, even though the majority of the state is still experiencing extreme or severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
According to Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “it’s fair to say that what we’re seeing right now in California will undoubtedly help to alleviate some of the localized parts of the drought, but it will not resolve the long-term drought concerns.”
The most recent atmospheric river, a long plume of moisture that extends into the Pacific and is capable of dropping massive amounts of rain and snow, has begun to fade in some places. However, more precipitation is expected in Northern California on Wednesday, followed by a prolonged storm system that is expected to last until January 17.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Sacramento Valley, Monterey Bay, and the entire San Francisco Bay Area through Tuesday. As a result of recent wildfires, mud and debris could slide down bare hillsides.
Winds reached 88 miles per hour (141 kilometres per hour) in the mountains north of Los Angeles, and rainfall rates of up to half an inch (1.27 centimetres) per hour were predicted. Tornadoes were predicted but never appeared.
High winds in South San Francisco ripped a large apartment complex’s roof off.
In certain places, squalls and flooding have forced the closure of schools, as well as the sporadic closing of important thoroughfares that have flooded or been obstructed by trees, boulders, and landslides.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo had to be cancelled due to weather, and water inundated the main concourse of Los Angeles’ famed Union Station.
A sinkhole swallowed two automobiles on a Los Angeles street, trapping two drivers who needed to be rescued by a fire crew. Photos from Tuesday showed a gaping hole nearly the width of a roadway with a small automobile buried deep inside it.
Another sinkhole has damaged 15 homes in the Santa Barbara County town of Orcutt.
In the wealthy seaside community of Montecito, 80 miles (128 kilometres) northwest of Los Angeles, evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday for about 10,000 people, including Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities.
The community had been told to evacuate on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes.
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