The second consecutive atmospheric river targeted Southern California early Monday, triggering mudslides, flooding roads and knocking out power as the soggy state braced for another day of heavy rain.
About 1.4 million people in the Los Angeles area, including Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills, were under a flash flood warning Monday morning. Up to 9 inches of rain had already fallen in the region, with more expected, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, which called flash flooding and the risk of mudslides a “particularly dangerous situation.” .
In Northern California, the storm flooded streets and brought down trees and power lines Sunday in the San Francisco Bay area, where winds topped 60 mph in some areas. Gusts exceeding 128 km/h were recorded in the mountains.
Just south in San Jose, emergency crews pulled occupants from the windows of a car stuck in floodwaters and rescued people from a homeless encampment on the banks of a swollen river .
The storm then moved toward Southern California, where authorities warned of potentially devastating flooding and ordered the evacuation of canyons that burned in recent wildfires and pose a high risk of mud and debris flows.
“We’ve had flooding, we’ve had gusty winds, we’ve had the full range here,” said Todd Hall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service near Los Angeles.
“I’ve been reporting on the damage all night, so I’ve seen quite a bit of damage and people being evacuated from their homes because of mudslides,” Hall said.
Classes were canceled Monday in schools in Santa Barbara County, devastated by mudslides caused by powerful storms in 2018.
Farther down the coast, high winds and heavy rain made conditions dangerous in the town of Ventura, said Alexis Herrera, who was trying to bail out his water-filled sedan.
“All the highways are flooded around here,” Herrera said in Spanish. “I don’t know how I’m going to move my car.”
More than 543,000 customers were without power statewide as of Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us.
Palisades Tahoe, a ski resort about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, said Sunday it expected the heaviest snowfall this season, with accumulations of 6 inches per hour for a total up to 60 cm.
Heavy snow was expected Monday across the Sierra Nevada and motorists were urged to avoid mountain roads.
Much of the state has dried out because of the atmospheric river that blew through last week, causing flooding and dumping welcome snow in the mountains. The latest storm, also called the “Pineapple Express” because its plume of moisture extends across the Pacific to near Hawaii, arrived off the coast of Northern California on Saturday, while most of the The state was under some sort of wind, wave or flood watch.
Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow plumes of moisture that form over an ocean and can produce torrential amounts of rain as they move over land.
Evacuation orders for areas burned by wildfires
The weather service issued a rare “hurricane force wind warning” for the Central Coast, with wind gusts up to 90 mph from the Monterey Peninsula to the northern part of San Luis Obispo County.
Evacuation orders and warnings were in effect for mountain and canyon areas of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsay Horvath urged residents near areas burned by the Topanga and Soledad Canyon wildfires to heed orders to get out ahead of possible mudslides.
“If you have not already left, gather your family, your pets, your medications and leave immediately,” Horvath said during a press briefing Sunday. The county set up shelters where evacuees could spend the night.
State of emergency for 8 counties
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services activated its operations center and positioned personnel and equipment in the highest risk areas.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, said its schools would be open Monday morning, except for Topanga Elementary Charter School and Vinedale College Preparatory Academy.
The weather service predicts up to 8 inches of precipitation in coastal areas and valleys of Southern California, with 14 inches possible in the foothills and mountains. Heavy to moderate rain is expected in Southern California through Tuesday.
“The storm is actually going to sit on top of us today,” Hall said. “There’s really no relief, unfortunately, because this group is just stuck right above us and it’s going to dump moderate to heavy rain on us all day.”