Storm-hit California is getting more wind, rain and snow
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Storm-hit California got more wind, rain and snow on Saturday, prompting flooding concerns, causing power outages and making travel dangerous.
Rainbands of gusty winds started in the north and spread south, with more storms expected to follow early next week, the National Weather Service said.
More than 68,000 utility customers were without power as of Saturday morning, a number that was reduced by more than half in the afternoon, according to poweroutage.us.
Flood warnings have been issued for the region north of San Francisco Bay, including Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
In the south, alerts have been posted for parts of counties like San Mateo and Santa Cruz, where the tiny community of Felton Grove on the San Lorenzo River has been ordered to be evacuated.
The swollen Salinas River flooded farmland in Monterey County, and to the east, Merced County was on flood warnings in the agricultural Central Valley, which Gov. Gavin Newsom was visiting to take stock of the storm’s problems.
Flood water covers a property along River Rd. in Monterey County, California, as the Salinas River bursts its banks on Friday, January 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
“The reality is this is only the eighth of nine forecast to be atmospheric flows – we’re not done yet,” Newsom said at a briefing with local leaders where he urged people to stay safe for the next 24 to 48 hours.
“It’s happening all over California, but I want to say … you’re disproportionately bearing the brunt of it, and if you feel that way, you’re right,” Newsom said.
Slippery roads, snow and whiteout conditions plagued highways through the Sierra Nevada.
The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab tweeted Saturday morning that it had received 21.3 inches (54 centimeters) of snow in 24 hours and that its snowpack of about 3 meters (10 feet) is expected to grow a few more feet by Monday.
A backcountry avalanche warning has been issued for the central Sierra, including the greater Lake Tahoe area.
A series of atmospheric flows have dumped rain and snow over California since late December, cutting off power to thousands, flooding roads, releasing streams of debris and triggering landslides.
We received 21.3″ (54 cm) of it #Snow in the last 24 hours and it’s still cumming hard out there! The snow pack is DEEP with ~10 feet (3 meters) of snow already on the ground!
— UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab (@UCB_CSSL) January 14, 2023
At least 19 storm-related deaths have occurred, and a 5-year-old boy remained missing after he was washed out of his mother’s car by flood waters in San Luis Obispo County.
Half of the deaths involved motorists, and some could have been prevented if drivers had heeded roadblock signs, California Highway Patrol acting commissioner Sean Duryee said during a briefing of state and federal officials on Friday.
In Santa Barbara County, where a massive flow of debris through the Montecito community killed 23 people on Jan. 9, 2018, residents were told no new evacuations were expected but to be prepared.
Montecito and adjacent areas were last evacuated last Monday, the fifth anniversary of what is locally remembered as “1/9 Debris Flow.” But the community, perched on the foothills of the coastal mountains, escaped serious damage.
Visiting Montecito on Friday, Newsom asked residents to exercise caution and heed warnings from public safety officials.
“I know how tired you all are,” Newsom said. “Just stay a little more vigilant over the next weekend.”
Dry days are forecast for California next week starting Tuesday.
“The question then will be, are we staying dry through the end of the month?” the San Francisco Bay Area Weather Bureau wrote.
AP reporter Janie Har contributed from San Francisco. AP/Report for America writer Sophie Austin contributed from Mather, California.