SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials began ordering evacuations in high-risk coastal areas where 23 people died in landslides in 2018 as a giant storm approached California on Wednesday, while residents elsewhere in the state have We rushed to find sandbags, prepared for floods and power outages.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to allow for a quick response and help clean up from another powerful storm a few days ago.Dozens of flights have been canceled at San Francisco International Airport. , South San Francisco schools preemptively canceled Thursday’s classes. State officials have warned Northern California residents to stay off the roads as the storm intensifies.
Initial evacuations have been ordered for people living in the scarred areas of three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County. Heavy rainfall is expected in the region overnight, causing widespread flooding and possible debris flows in some areas. Among them is Tony’s town of Montecito, home to many celebrities such as Oprah his Winfrey and Prince Harry and his wife Meghan his Markle.
“This could be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to land in California in the last five years,” said Nancy Ward, the new director of the California Governor’s Emergency Services Agency. I expect.
Authorities have asked drivers to stay off the road unless absolutely necessary. They also asked them to sign up to stay up to date with updates from emergency authorities on fallen trees, power lines and floods. In Northern California, his 40 km of Highway 101 between Trinidad and Orrick was closed by several fallen trees.
Before the storm arrived late Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said people were evacuating areas affected by last year’s Arizal fire, the 2019 Cave fire and the devastating 2017 Thomas fire. said I need to.
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Massive torrents carrying huge rocks, mud and debris swept down coastal mountains, passed through the town of Montecito and reached the coastline on January 9, 2018, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100 homes. it was done. Among those killed were two children whose bodies were never found.
Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor said Wednesday that homes near waterways are at greatest risk.
“What we’re talking about here is the bulk of the water that runs off the top of the hill and into streams and creeks, gaining momentum as it flows down, and that’s the first danger,” he said.
Storms over the past 30 days have brought 8 to 13 inches of rain, flooding coastal hills in Santa Barbara County. The current storm is projected to bring up to 10 inches of rain in the area.
“This cumulative rain… is our source of risk,” he said.
The storm, set to reach full force in northern California by Wednesday night, is one of three so-called atmospheric river storms last week to reach the drought-stricken state. With water levels at record lows since the last three years of dry weather, there is plenty of room to replenish with water from impending storms, officials said.
Still, the trees are already stressed after years of low rainfall. The ground is suddenly saturated and the wind is strong, so the trees are easy to fall. Karla Nemeth, director of the state’s water resources agency, said it could cause widespread blackouts and flood hazards.
“We are in the middle of a flood emergency and we are also in the middle of a drought emergency,” she said at an emergency briefing.
The storm came days after heavy New Year’s Eve rains evacuated rural people in Northern California and rescued several motorists from flooded roads. Several levees south of Sacramento were damaged.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the 8,500 sandbags distributed by officials on Wednesday were not enough to meet demand as forecasters warned of impending flooding. It announced that it would be canceling classes for students “out of an abundance of caution.”
Heavy rain with gusts of up to 60 mph (96 km/h) is expected late Wednesday through Thursday, making driving conditions difficult, the National Weather Service said. In Southern California, the storm’s intensity was expected to peak overnight, with the most rainfall likely in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, forecasters said.
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Aaron Johnson, regional vice president of Pacific Gas and Electric Bay Area, said the company has more than 3,000 employees working with crews of three to five people to assess equipment damage and restore power as soon as possible. said to let
Robert O’Neill, an insurance broker who lives and works just south of San Francisco, said he lined up to sandbag his garage and a colleague’s house in preparation for the storm.
As president of Town & Country Insurance Services, he gave employees the option to work from home on Wednesday. He plans to leave the office early and come home with a go-bag full of clothes, medicine, electronic chargers and important documents. He has a sleeping bag and his 3 day supply of water, nuts and protein bars.
“We’re in a big city, so we won’t be stuck for long, but I don’t know,” he said.
California’s storms are still not enough to formally end the drought, now in its fourth year.
Elsewhere, ice and heavy snow have taken their toll in the Midwest this week, with schools in Minnesota and western Wisconsin closed, and jets off icy taxiways after landing in a blizzard in Minneapolis.Delta The airline said no passengers were injured.
In the South, possible tornadoes may have caused homes to collapse and vehicles to overturn in Montgomery, Alabama, early Wednesday. Christina Thornton, director of the Montgomery Emergency Management Agency, said radar indicated a possible tornado, but it was unconfirmed. she said.
Staff at the National Weather Service’s Chicago office said they would investigate storm damage Wednesday following at least six tornadoes, the largest number of rare January tornadoes recorded in the state since 1989. I planned.
Associated Press writers Janie Herr of San Francisco, Sophie Austin of Sacramento, Calif., Steve Karnowski of Minneapolis, and Rick Callahan of Indianapolis contributed to this report.