WEATHER

Flooding is about to get worse in California due to an atmospheric river.

Mar 13, 2023, 12:30 PM

California Flooding...

Aerial view of broken levee and flooded river in Pajaro, California, U.S. March 12, 2023. (REUTERS/Drone Base)

(REUTERS/Drone Base)

Originally Published: 13 MAR 23 00:16 ET
Updated: 13 MAR 23 14:02 ET

    (CNN) — Californians pummeled by an onslaught of dangerous storms will get deluged again as another atmospheric river threatens more deadly flooding.

Over 18 million people in California are under flood alerts that cover much of the state, including San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Fresno.

“Major wind and water impacts are expected,” the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office said Monday. “Now’s the time to rush any preparations to completion before conditions go downhill later today.”

The brunt of the storm is expected to lash Northern and central California beginning late Monday and Southern California starting Tuesday.

Already, a levee breach in Monterey County blamed on devastating weekend flooding has prompted evacuation alerts for thousands. And Monterey Bay residents could soon find themselves on a virtual island, cut off by more floodwater.

About 20 swift-water rescue teams in more than 10 counties have been positioned ahead of the looming storm, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Monday, following dozens of water rescues in recent days.

This new wave of menacing weather comes on the heels of a deadly atmospheric river — a long, narrow band of moisture that can carry saturated air thousands of miles like a fire hose. It will be the 11th to pummel the West this winter season.

From severe flooding to lengthy droughts, the intensity of water-related disasters around the world has increased over the past two decades as global temperatures climbed to record levels, new research shows.

California’s new storm could exacerbate flooding and damage in some places. Already, residents in central and Northern California are crowding into shelters amid mudslides, rushing rivers, collapsed bridges and impassable roads.

Intense rainfall totals up to 8 inches are possible across parts of Northern and central California.

South of San Francisco, parts of Monterey County — including Salinas — could get cut off by flooding on the Salinas River, officials said. Those at risk “can and should seek shelter at one of the County Evacuation Shelters, with family or friends,” Monterey County officials said.

The storm also could complicate efforts to repair a levee in Monterey County that was breached around midnight Friday by the swollen Pajaro River. Evacuation alerts for 5,000 residents could expand.

Water rushed through the more than 120-foot break and into nearby Pajaro, forcing thousands to flee as crews rescued close to 200 others, Monterey Sheriff Tina Nieto said.

Many Pajaro residents are farmworkers who may not only lose property but also the ability to earn a living for some time if the continued flooding impacts agriculture, said Luis Alejo, chair of the Monterey County board of supervisors.

“These are the folks who can least afford this type of hardship,” he said.

 

What to expect as the storm moves in

 

This new wave of storms is bearing down on areas already buried by heavy snowfall from the past two weeks. Melting snowpack will also play a role in prolonging flooding over the upcoming days, forecasters say.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center issued a Level 3 out of 4 risk for excessive rain across Northern California on Monday and across portions of the central California coast and Sierra Nevada on Tuesday.

The rain is expected to start intensifying late Monday and the heavy rainfall, combined with the snowmelt, is forecast to fuel more flooding from Tuesday into Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters warned of “considerable flooding impacts” below 5,000-foot elevations across large portions of central California into Tuesday.

“In addition, heavy rain and snowmelt may lead to renewed (more widespread) flooding from Monday to Tuesday, particularly in low elevations and shallow and warming snowpack areas,” the National Weather Service said.

Creeks and streams already bloated from previous inundations are at risk of overflowing due to more rain and snowmelt.

In Southern California, rain could fall as fast as 1 inch per hour over the mountains and foothills.

Residents can expect shallow mud and debris flows in recent burn areas, falling trees, downed power lines and travel delays due to flooded roads and mudslides, the National Weather Service office in Los Angeles said.

Across 12 California counties, about 500 people are at 30 shelters — most in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, just north of the Monterey area, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Sunday.

President Joe Biden has approved a state of emergency declaration requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom, freeing money for the millions of residents hit with severe weather this year. Newsom expanded the declaration to include six additional counties Sunday, including Calaveras, Del Norte, Glenn, Kings, San Benito and San Joaquin.

 

‘We are now an island’

 

Rescue crews have plucked dozens of residents from perilous floodwater as torrential rain over the past week pushed rivers and creeks over their banks.

More than 90 people have been rescued in Monterey County alone, Sheriff Tina Nieto said Saturday.

The California Highway Patrol posted dramatic video of a helicopter rescue in King City, where a driver was trapped in the Salinas River.

“The rising river washed a driver and his car away but the driver was able to escape the vehicle and get to an island in the middle of the flooded Salinas River,” the highway patrol posted Sunday.

Evacuation orders remain in parts of Kern County as the swollen Kern River swept away a shed, a hot tub and full-size trees in Kernville, a resident said.

“The river is now surrounding some RVs and mobile homes. It’s really unbelievable,” said Danny Housh, who has worked in Kernville for 17 years and said he’s never seen anything like this.

To the north, intense rainfall Friday in Santa Cruz County left about 700 Soquel residents trapped after a pipe failure collapsed the only road linking the community to the region, said Steve Wiesner, the county’s assistant public works director.

“We are now an island,” resident Molly Watson told CNN.

Another hard-hit area was Tulare County, where video from Springville showed devastating damage after Friday’s severe flooding.

“It’s quite heartbreaking,” Hatti Shepard told CNN. “Many hardworking people displaced with losses of home and possessions.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Weather

sunshine on cherry blossoms shown. Spring weather...

Peter Johnston

Spring weather slowing melt of snowpack, and that’s good

The cooler upcoming spring weather will slow the melt of Utah's snowpack and local meteorologists say that is good.

15 hours ago

FILE: Joana Abeel holds her daughter, Penelope Abeel, at the Draper City Splash Pad during a heat w...

Alexandrea Bonillla and Simone Seikaly

Above-normal temperatures expected for Utah summer

Summer weather predictions point to a La Niña weather pattern which will bring warm temperatures and dry conditions to Utah.

2 days ago

Weed block is used as a landscaping and xeriscaping project is installed in Layton on Thursday, Jun...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

Landscaping projects picking up pace as weather gets warmer

Jeff Mott, owner of Mott's Landscaping, said people often start big landscaping projects in the summertime. 

6 days ago

A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Hurricane season could affect ga...

Britt Johnson

Hurricane season could mean bad news for Utah gas prices

Hurricane season is expected to be intense this year, and while none of them should hit Utah rising gas prices probably will. 

6 days ago

snowpack...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah storm adding to snowpack that melted over weekend

A storm passing through Utah will increase the snowpack that melted this weekend when the sun came out in force.

9 days ago

Valley Rain and mountain snow...

Adam Small

Utah getting big delivery of valley rain, mountain snow Monday

Utah will see valley rain and mountain snow throughout Monday with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Flooding is about to get worse in California due to an atmospheric river.