More than 35 million are under flood threat in Southern California with more rain expected Tuesday | CNN
A powerful storm system drenched parts of California over the weekend and Monday, leaving at least two people dead, knocking out power and prompting dangerous mudslides and rivers of debris that stretched across neighborhoods. The rain – and in some areas, the heavy snow – isn’t letting up just yet. Here’s what’s happening:
•Rain and snow threats persist: Heavy rain and “life threatening flash flooding” will continue to impact southern California Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, with another 1 to 3 inches expected from Los Angeles to San Diego. Already, some areas in Los Angeles County have seen nearly 1 foot of rain. The rain and threats of flash flooding will expand Tuesday into western Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah as the storm system moves east.
• Snow makes travel next to impossible: The storm system also dumped heavy snow, burying parts of the Sierra Nevada and southern California’s mountain ranges. The snow and strong winds will continue to make for “near impossible” travel conditions at high elevations in the southern parts of the Sierra Nevada and into the central Nevada mountains, the weather service said. The heavy snow will spread further inland this week, reaching parts of higher elevation in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, the service said.
•At least two people killed: At least two people have died in the severe weather after getting hit by falling trees. In northern California, the Yuba City Police Department said a man who was on a ladder died Sunday after a tree fell on him in his backyard. South in Santa Cruz County, a 45-year-old man died Sunday after a tree fell on a home he was in, trapping him inside, sheriff’s office spokesperson Ashley Keehn told CNN.
•Thousands still without power: More than 290,000 customers across California were without power late Monday night, according to poweroutage.us, particularly in the northern parts of the state, where violent winds knocked down trees and power lines over the weekend.
•More than 100 mudslides in Los Angeles: Authorities in Los Angeles reported more than 120 mudslides during the storm. While the worst of the downpours may be over, the continuing rain Tuesday means more floods and mudslides are still possible and roads remain littered with trees and debris. Officials in Southern California have urged anyone who ventures outside to do so with extreme caution.
35 million remain under flood warnings
Communities across California were pummeled by heavy rain over the last three days, and while the rain will slow significantly, several more inches of rain is expected in Southern California Tuesday – a dangerous forecast for an area that’s already been soaked.
“Much of Southern California has seen rainfall totals approaching a foot of rainfall from this powerful storm,” CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. “As rainfall continues to fall over much of the same regions, the soil is unable to absorb the heavy rainfall as effectively, which leads to flash flooding, mud and rock slides, excessive runoff and urban flooding.”
The Weather Prediction Center issued a slight risk for excessive rainfall Tuesday – a level 2 of 4 – for Southern California and the Desert Southwest, including Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix, as the storm system moves east, and further inland.
On Monday night, roughly 35 million people remained under flood watches across California, as well as some in Arizona and Nevada.
Winter weather alerts remain in effect through Tuesday afternoon for parts of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California’s mountain ranges, where parts of the Sierras have already recorded more than 2 feet of snow this week, with additional snowfall of more than 1 foot possible by Tuesday. In Southern California, the heaviest snow will target the highest elevations of the San Gabriel, Ventura County and San Bernardino mountains through Tuesday, where snow totals can exceed 1 foot.
Winter weather alerts have also spread to the Rocky Mountains and parts of Arizona and Nevada, where up to 3 feet of snowfall is possible.
More than 100 mudslides and 2 dozen buildings damaged in Los Angeles
Across Southern California Monday, neighborhood streets turned into muddy, gushing rivers that swallowed cars, washed away debris and left people and animals stranded.
Scott Toro, a resident of Studio City in Los Angeles, told CNN a violent mudslide in his neighborhood scattered neighbors’ cars, and left their street completely impassable, littered with large boulders and tree branches. Two of his neighbors’ homes sustained damage, Toro told CNN.
“Everybody seems to be OK, I mean, I think we’re all just mentally shaken, but we’re physically, we’re all okay,” he told CNN, later adding: “We’ve been here 21 years and we’ve never seen anything (like this).”
In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass declared an emergency Monday after the storm dropped nearly 1 foot of water in some areas, triggering mudslides, evacuations and rescues.
More than 120 mudslides and debris flows were reported in the city, Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said in a Monday news conference. Officials were also investigating whether 25 structures that were damaged in the storm are safe, Crowley said. Crews are working to clear and repair roads that were impacted.
“As the storm continues, there are several water-soaked hillsides that have the potential to slide,” the chief said. “We might like to reiterate to use extreme caution if you live or travel in these areas.”
Two evacuation orders remained in place Monday night, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Lindsey Horvath said – one at the Owen Fire burn scar in Topanga Canyon and one at the Agua Fire burn scar near Acton.
Though the damage officials saw was not as significant as what they had prepared for, the storm was like “a thousand cuts,” Horvath said.
“Sinkholes, downed trees (and) areas of erosion,” she said. “But we are doing well and our crews remain out.”
CNN’s Taylor Ward, Taylor Romine, Mary Gilbert and Stephanie Elam contributed to this report.
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