“My heart aches tonight for the residents of Bajaro,” Monterey County Board of Supervisors Chairman Luis Alejo said. said in a tweet. “We were hoping to avoid and prevent this situation, but in the worst case scenario the Bajaro River burst its banks at midnight.”
As the sun rose over the state, more than 9,000 residents were still under evacuation orders as California continued to bear what is known as the Atmospheric River, one of the wettest storms on the West Coast. This is the 10th event this season.
By Friday afternoon, the flood levels were already massive. In the San Francisco Bay Area, travelers had to navigate around flooding that closed several roads, including a major highway in Oakland. Tens of thousands were without power on Saturday after about 55,000 customers were affected on Friday. At least two people died, according to officials.
The situation continued to deteriorate in the central coastal areas of the state and the Salinas Valley—often called The country’s “salad bowl” Because of the leafy greens and other vegetables grown there. In some parts of the region, roads were flooded and main evacuation routes were impassable. A separate levee breach occurred nearly 150 miles from Pajaro in the community of Cutler in Tulare County.
Forecasters predict that this incessant rain will continue till next week.
Although the main moisture associated with the atmospheric river moves in on Friday, additional moderate to heavy rain is expected in central and northern California late Saturday and into Sunday. Later, another atmospheric river originating near Hawaii is expected to come ashore.
By Tuesday, 3 to 6 inches of rain could fall along the coast, with double-digit precipitation in the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada. It is forecast to drop another 4 to 8 feet of snow, which could lead to more flooding, rapid snowmelt and avalanches.
A flood watch is in effect for areas below 4,000 feet elevation in central and northern California. The National Weather Service office in Hanford, Calif., said many creeks and rivers that were at flood stage Friday will continue to rise through the weekend.
The weather service began issuing flash flood warnings Friday as creeks and streams turned to roaring speeds combined with heavy rain and snowmelt.
Springville, a community of about 1,000 residents along Highway 190 in central California’s Tulare County, was placed under a severe “flash flood emergency” in the early hours of the morning.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation. Now seek higher ground!” That’s what the weather service in Hanford warned.
Drone footage revealed Dozens of homes are floating in water, at least one structure has collapsed and many are on the brink of destruction.
In an online warning to residents, the Tulare County Resource Management Agency described the flooding as “unprecedented,” writing that “road crews are unable to sign every road flooded at this time.”
Tulare County, southeast of Fresno and northeast of Bakersfield, recorded 4.3 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending Saturday morning. The Sierra snowpack has three to eight feet of water — and that’s in most places — meaning atmospheric river heat can quickly melt enough water to double the amount dumped into creeks and streams during a blizzard.
Meanwhile, mountain communities in the Sierra are working to sort out where to put their ever-accumulating snow. Although most of the snow falls above 8,000 feet, rain has fallen in the fluffy snow below.
A “rain-soaked” 9.3 inches of snow was measured Friday at the Central Sierra Snow Lab off Interstate 80 near Donner Pass, near 7,000 feet, and has reached 617 inches since October.
It turned the snow into cement-like mud, which in some cases caused structural collapse. In other cases, high avalanche danger is a concern.