Atmospheric river threatens California with flooding amid snow and heavy rain

Some California mountain towns are buried in snow from cold weather storms A warm and dangerous storm began moving into the state on Thursday, bringing heavy rain, wind and snow and raising concerns about widespread flooding.

The storm, known as Atmospheric River, brought rain along the coast late Thursday morning and was expected to intensify and push inland throughout the day and into Friday. That will melt low-lying snow and cause flooding Thursday through Friday, forecasters said. Rain will continue in parts of the state through the weekend before another atmospheric river approaches next week.

Forecasters too warned “Excessive amounts of heavy snow” in the mountains of northern and central California through Friday.

By Thursday evening, parts of the state had already recorded two inches of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist David Roth said by phone.

“Rain intensity should increase overnight across much of Central California,” said Mr. Roth said. “There’s more to come.” There have already been some reports of cars hydroplaning in several inches of water on roads, he said.

Across the state, there were roads and some major highways Closed Due to inclement weather, officials said.

Fire Department in Contra Costa County said Authorities said on Twitter that a four-vehicle crash left one person in critical condition in the hospital, which officials believe was weather-related. Another person involved in the crash suffered “moderate” injuries, it added.

A 40-mile stretch of coastal highway south of San Francisco, California’s iconic Highway 1, was closed after reports of “various falling rocks.” The California Department of Transportation said Thursday. The commission also informed about spinouts and emergency works on other roads.

Meanwhile, officials in Monterey County began stressing some residents Ready to empty. In San Jose, officials issued evacuation orders For houseless residents living in rivers and creeks of the district.

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Officials warned that the storm could cause catastrophic river flooding, urban flooding and coastal flooding. There is a risk of downed trees and power lines due to strong winds.

“This is an unparalleled, unprecedented weather event that has not been experienced for decades, dating back to 1969,” Chris Mattarocchia, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service’s office in Hanford, Calif., said at a news conference in Fresno on Thursday. County officials warned residents to be prepared to evacuate.

“Usually there will be more water in areas that are not affected, so everyone needs to be prepared,” Mr. Mattarocchia said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday in anticipation of the storm Expanded the state of emergency He announced last week that he would add 21 additional counties to the 13 counties, many of them in northern and central California. Additional counties covered by the emergency declaration include Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz.

Statewide, 45,000 customers were without power Thursday evening power cut. us.

In Humboldt County, local authorities declared a state of emergency A series of “big winter storms” resulted in massive accumulations of snow, impassable roads, downed trees, disrupted utility services, damaged and flooded roads, mudslides, damaged structures and dead livestock. The county said these impacts “exhaust and exceed” its available resources.

The city of Merced, 115 miles southeast of Sacramento, Evacuation warning issued Thursday evening for some of its residents.

According to the National Weather Service, there will be more rain in central coastal areas on Friday He said on Twitter. The service said the stretch from Salinas to San Luis Obispo, as well as inland areas around Fresno and Visalia, were “highly at risk.” This type was last used in this area in 2010.

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The atmospheric river barreled into California, a giant conveyor belt of moisture. Pineapple Express Because it trapped moisture in the subtropics near Hawaii.

The storm will bring heavy rain to communities above about 9,000 feet where there is already heavy snow. In Southern California, rain can occur above 11,000 feet Meteorological Center.

The most significant snowmelt and overall flood risk is expected in areas with shallow snowpack, generally below 5,000 feet. Creeks and streams in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are the most vulnerable to flooding, the National Weather Service said.

Significant river falls are expected in many parts of northern and central California late Thursday through the weekend as stormwater runoff and reservoir releases, California Nevada River Forecast Center said.

The California National Guard is deploying high-water vehicles in preparation for flood response operations, state officials said. San Francisco said it would 10 free sandbags To address residents and businesses.

The Santa Lucia Mountains in coastal central California could be inundated with up to 15 inches of rain, flooding roads and creeks and creating mudslides. In the Bay Area, one to four inches of rain is expected at low elevations through Friday, with up to 10 inches at higher elevations.

San Luis Obispo County warned residents in low-lying areas of coastal Oceano, California, of four to eight inches of rain. Ready to empty. Los Angeles County was expected to receive 0.75 to 1.5 inches of rain.

At higher elevations, rain is not expected to cause flooding because deep snow can absorb additional moisture.

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However, rain can add more weight to the snow, putting additional stress on buildings and increasing avalanche risk. The National Weather Service in Los Angeles warned that “significant avalanches” were possible above 5,000 feet and roofs could collapse.

While rain is the main concern, up to two feet of snow is possible in the Coast Range and Shasta County mountains, and up to eight feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains, according to the National Weather Service. Winds can reach 80 miles per hour in the mountains. Blinding conditions and road closures are possible.

“Any commute is not encouraging, especially in the mountains,” Katrina Hand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said in an interview Thursday.

The latest storm comes as mountain communities continue to dig out from last month’s blizzards.

At least 11 people have died in the snow-covered San Bernardino County area since Feb. 23, though it’s unclear how many of those deaths were directly related to the blizzards, county sheriff and coroner Shannon Dicus said Wednesday.

The expanded emergency declaration will allow California to mobilize more equipment and personnel, Mr. Newsom said.

The California Department of Transportation already employs more than 4,000 workers statewide, including more than 57 in San Bernardino County operating snowplows, graders, loaders and dump trucks, officials said.

“The state is working around the clock with local partners to deploy life-saving equipment and first responders to communities across California,” said Mr. Newsom said. A statement Thursday. “With more dangerous storms on the horizon, we will continue to mobilize every available resource to protect Californians.”

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