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California has been inundated with heavy rains since Friday, causing widespread flooding and mudslides. Although the rain eased on Sunday, the state is bracing for another atmospheric river that is expected to make landfall soon on Monday evening.
That is forecast to bring more rain and snow — and more flooding — through Wednesday.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in 21 countiesand President Biden also approved his request for federal aid.
Officials said at least two people have died in the recent bad weather in the state. A spokesman for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Sunday that the agency has not received any notification of deaths from local officials for the current round of storms so far.
Rain from the atmospheric river that made landfall on Thursday flooded roads and rivers, and thousands of residents were under evacuation orders. A river stream in central California breached just before midnight Friday, forcing hundreds of evacuations and dozens of rescues as the small Monterey County town of Pajaro was found completely underwater.
“There were about 1,700 people displaced from their homes in Pajaro, and the town was flooded all over,” Monterey County Communications Director Nick Pasculli told NPR.
Atmospheric rivers form when a long stream of air transports water vapor from the tropics, and it produces heavy rain or snow when they land.
As of Sunday afternoon, about 13,000 California customers were without power, according to the outage tracking site PowerOutage.us — down from 37,000 Saturday afternoon.
The outages were concentrated in hard-hit Monterey County, which saw about 13 inches of rain and the devastating Pajaro levee break. The Bay Area in northern California was hit with about 10 inches of rain.
Beginning late Monday through early Wednesday, the next atmospheric river “is likely to bring additional very heavy precipitation,” especially in northern and central California, and “very heavy mountain snowfall and periods a strong wind,” said David Lawrencea National Weather Service meteorologist.
That could worsen already severe flooding. In addition to flash flooding, excessive rainfall and snowmelt may cause lower elevation streams and rivers to overflow throughout central and northern California.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services urged residents to clean their gutters and downspouts, check roads online before traveling and be prepared to evacuate if notified to do so.
In anticipation of storms headed for the state this week, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has the preposition flood defense personnel.
As emergency responders prepare for more flooding at lower elevations, more snow heads for higher elevations. Some residents in The San Bernardino mountains are still stranded under the snow from a blizzard two weeks ago.