Storm-battered California — still reeling from weeks of deadly floods, mudslides and rescues — is being hit with more rainfall this weekend.
A relentless chain of atmospheric rivers — long, narrow regions of the atmosphere that can carry moisture for thousands of miles — have turned communities into lakes, crippled highways and prompted thousands of evacuations, including more early this week. At least 19 people have died as a result of the storms.
Two more are hitting the state this weekend.
” It is not finished ; we must remain vigilant. Stay safe, make necessary preparations and limit non-essential travel,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Floods, landslides and storms don’t care who you are or where you live – it will hit you just the same. We have lost too many – too many people to these storms and in these waters.
More than 25 million people were under flood watch Saturday night across much of California’s central coast, as well as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.
A slight risk of excessive precipitation – level 2 of 4 – is in place for areas along the California coast, the Transverse Ranges and the foothills of the Sierras where up to 3 inches of rain could lead to flooding and landslides , the National Weather Service said.
Residents of Monterey County on California’s central coast were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas of the Carmel River on Saturday afternoon. Sacramento County officials have ordered residents of the Wilton area to flee – once again – due to a predicted rise in the Cosumnes River.
“People are tired of evacuation orders. People are tired seeing these Caltrans signs that say ‘detour’ — they’re just tired in general,” Newsom said, speaking from a flood evacuation shelter at the Merced County Fairgrounds.
President Joe Biden on Saturday approved California’s request for a disaster declaration, releasing federal assistance to supplement recovery efforts in areas of the state affected by storms, floods and mudslides since Dec. 27. , announced the White House.
“This federal assistance is critical to recovery efforts so Californians can get back on their feet faster,” Newsom said in a statement. Tweeter thanking Biden for endorsing the statement.
The weekend’s first system arrived at the California coast on Saturday afternoon and was expected to move inland, bringing heavy rain across the state “as a new wave of moisture flow from the Pacific before the main cold front,” the National Weather Service said.
Lighter precipitation is expected to continue Sunday, before another “speed up” from late Sunday to early Monday ahead of a second system, the weather service said.
The new round of heavy rain comes after many areas have already seen 50-70% of the amount of precipitation they would usually receive in an entire year in 16 days.
San Francisco recorded one of its 15 wettest winters on record.
Newsom said that just weeks ago, authorities in Southern California extended the drought emergency to millions of residents. Now the state is awash with rain.
“By some estimates, 22 to 25 trillion gallons of water have fallen in the last 16 to 17 days – the stacking of these atmospheric rivers unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” the governor said. “The reality is that this is only the eighth of what we expect to be nine atmospheric rivers.”
Although this weekend’s rainfall totals are lower than previous storms, the flood threshold is now much lower as the ground is too saturated to absorb more water in many areas.
“The challenges will present themselves over the next few days with enough acuteness, especially since everything is saturated, especially since the pitches are overwhelmed.” Newsom said. “What may seem less important in terms of precipitation may in fact be more important in terms of land impacts, flooding and debris flows.”
Widespread rainfall totals through Monday will range between 2 and 3 inches along the coast and interior valleys, with 4 to 6 inches possible for the San Francisco Bay Area and nearby Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia Mountains. . This will likely lead to some flooding as well as mud, rocks and landslides.
River flooding is also a major concern, especially around the Russian River in Northern California and the Salinas River near Monterey.
Monterey County officials warned this week that flooding from the rising Salinas River could turn the area into an island and cut it off from essential services.
To the east in Merced County, crews rushed to place rocks in the Bear Creek area ahead of the storm’s arrival, fearing high waters would continue to erode the levee and eventually drag a levee failure in downtown Merced.
The storm is hampering the continued search for Kyle Doan, 5, who was torn from his mother’s hands by floodwaters on Monday.
“Water levels continue to rise in the area and weather conditions are not suitable for any type of search activity today… Searches will continue as weather and conditions permit,” the office said on Saturday. of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff.
The child and his mother were on their way to school on Monday when floodwaters submerged their SUV. The mother managed to pull Kyle out of his car seat and held him down, but their hands slipped and they were separated.
The mother was then pulled safely out of the water. But Kyle has not been found.
Members of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team and California Highway Patrol Air Units were looking for the boy. National Guard troops were previously involved in the search but have since been released from the mission.