California officials have ordered evacuations of high-risk coastal areas where 23 people died in 2018 landslides. A massive storm swept through the state on Wednesday, bringing strong winds and rain, threatening widespread flooding and powering out more than 100,000 people.
The storm was expected to bring up to 6 inches (152.4 mm) of rain over parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Southern California will see the most rain in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, with the storm expected to peak in intensity overnight through early Thursday morning, forecasters said.
“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.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said at a news conference that the city was “preparing for war.” The crew unclogged storm drains, attempted to move homeless people to shelters, and distributed emergency supplies and ponchos to those who refused to go.
The city distributed so many sandbags to residents that they temporarily ran out of supplies.
Strong winds of more than 85 miles per hour (136 kmh) have canceled more than 70 flights and knocked down trees and power lines at San Francisco International Airport. Firefighters rescued a family after a tree fell on their car. The Fire Department reported a “large piece of glass” fell from the Fox Plaza Tower near the Civic Center, but no injuries were reported. The damage to the skyscraper was “very likely” wind-related, the ministry tweeted.
A new storm knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast.
The storm is one of last week’s three so-called atmospheric river storms to reach drought-stricken conditions. California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to allow for a quick response and help clean up from another powerful storm that hit a few days ago.
In Southern California, evacuations have been ordered for people living in areas burned by three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County. Heavy rains are expected in the area overnight, leading to widespread flooding and possible debris flows.
County officials didn’t know the exact number of people under evacuation orders, but Susan Klein Rothschild, a spokesperson for the county’s Emergency Operations Center, said sheriff’s deputies were going door-to-door. said it had contacted at least 480 people.
Among the towns ordered to be evacuated is Montecito, five years ago when huge rocks, mud and debris were washed from the mountains through the town to the coastline, killing 23 people and destroying over 100 homes. it was done. The town is home to many celebrities, including Oprah and his wife Winfrey, as well as Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.
“What we’re talking about here is a lot of water running off the top of the hill, running into creeks and creeks, gaining momentum as it runs down, and that’s the first danger,” said Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor. rice field.
Elsewhere, 45 miles (72 kilometers) of Highway 1 along the coast through Big Sur was closed Wednesday night in anticipation of flooding and falling rocks. Further north, 40 km of Route 101 was closed after several fallen trees.
With heavy snow expected, especially in the mountains, drivers were asked to stay off the road unless absolutely necessary.
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.
On Wednesday, officials in South Sacramento County found a body in a submerged car. This is him one of at least four victims of flooding from that storm.
Evacuation orders were issued not only for the area along the Pajarro River, but also for Paradise Park in Santa Cruz County, along the fast-flowing San Lorenzo River. Residents fleeing wildfires in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2020 packed up as the towns of Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, and Felton were all warned to prepare to evacuate.
Sonoma County officials issued an evacuation warning for a series of towns along the Russian River that were expected to reach flood stage on Thursday.
The storms alone weren’t enough to officially end the ongoing drought in the state, now in its fourth year. The US Drought Monitor showed that much of California is in a severe drought. The state’s main reservoir has low water levels, so there’s plenty of room to fill it with storm water, officials said.
Trees already stressed by years of limited rainfall are more likely to topple as the ground suddenly saturates and the wind picks up. Nemeth 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.
Storms have also caused casualties elsewhere in the U.S. In the Midwest, ice and heavy snow have closed schools in Minnesota and western Wisconsin this week, prompting jets to exit a frozen taxiway after landing in a blizzard in Minneapolis. I’m out. Delta Air Lines said no passengers were injured.
In the South, a possible tornado hit Montgomery, Alabama early Wednesday morning, damaging homes, uprooting trees and overturning vehicles.
In Illinois, staff at the National Weather Service’s Chicago office reported storm damage Wednesday following at least six tornadoes, the largest number of rare January tornadoes recorded in the state since 1989. planned to investigate.
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.
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