Storms leave at least 17 dead after passing through California | International

Known for its chronic drought, the last three weeks in California have offered quite a contrast. A series of storms has brought torrential rains, violent winds and lightning, flooding and mudslides across America’s most populous state. The local authorities maintained this Tuesday morning the evacuation order for some 50,000 people in dozens of communities affected by six climatic phenomena known as atmospheric rivers. These have so far left 17 dead in various parts of the entity. The authorities, however, have warned that the number of victims may rise in the coming hours. More than 160,000 people have also suffered from power cuts.

The most recent victims have been registered very early this Tuesday. A couple of people collided in a car in Tulare, a county halfway between Sacramento and Los Angeles, in the center of the state. In that same place, the death of a person victim of lightning has been documented. Since December, the storms have already killed more people than the last two fire seasons in California. “Our message is very simple: be very vigilant,” Governor Gavin Newsom warned Monday night from the emergency response center. This Tuesday, the Democratic politician spent his morning touring Capitola, a city of less than 10,000 inhabitants east of Santa Cruz (north of the State), where he witnessed the havoc left by the water.

Hours later, at a press conference in Santa Cruz, Newsom warned that it is possible that the number of deaths could rise throughout the afternoon. Rescue teams in San Luis Obispo County were working this morning to locate Kyle Doan, a five-year-old boy who was swept away Monday by a current from the overflowing Salinas River. The minor was going with his mother back to kindergarten until the car ran into a flood. The water snatched it from the hands of his mother, who was saved by some neighbors.

This Tuesday all eyes were on Montecito, a coastal community next to Santa Barbara that has served in recent years as a favorite haven for the rich and famous. There, new floods were expected for these hours and the authorities had asked the inhabitants of the town to evacuate to higher points. The storm hits the area just five years after a series of mudslides killed 23 people. “It is a solemn reminder of how quickly circumstances can change,” Newsom said in his message.

The situation that Montecito lives in has been transferred to the rest of California by one of its most famous neighbors. Ellen Degeneres, the famous television presenter, shared a video of the fierce torrent left by the rain on Monday with her 130 million followers on Instagram. “Please protect yourselves,” said the driver on the social network. Coastal communities have been some of the hardest hit, receiving up to 15 inches of rain in recent hours in the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Santa Clara regions. At night, at the Golden Globes ceremony, it was reported that one of the winners of the night, Kevin Coster, had not attended the gala because he was under shelter in Santa Barbara.

The actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, in a video from her Instagram account.
The actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, in a video from her Instagram account.ELLEN DEGENERES VIA TWITTER (via REUTERS)

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The National Weather Service has rated this storm as the worst in almost 20 years. “It is the most impressive we have seen since January 5-7, 2005,” says a statement from the government agency. The first report this morning forecast the continuation of “heavy rains and winds, possible flooding and the probability of electrical storms”, which could extend from Wednesday to Friday. The agency assures that there is uncertainty, since a new phenomenon could arrive that takes over after the atmospheric river has left the territory. Despite this, the governor warned this afternoon that experts estimate that it will continue to rain at least until January 18.

An atmospheric river is a band of moisture that carries water vapor from the tropics. One of these phenomena caused persistent rains since December throughout the past week. His step has been followed by another just like it. And one more. And so on up to six. Forecasters believe the main axis of the most recent is now east of the city of Los Angeles and will be positioned over San Luis Obispo County.

The storm combo has put local authorities on guard and forced the federal government headed by Joe Biden to decree a state of emergency. This puts millions of dollars and resources in the hands of the local Administration to help 17 counties that have been affected, according to a White House statement issued on Monday. On Tuesday night, given the pressing situation in California, Washington expanded protection to 31 counties in the town.

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