Torrential rains, floods and chaos leave more than 15 dead in California
Torrential rains have caused flash flooding, closed highways, downed trees and have washed away drivers and passengers, including a five-year-old boy who remains missing in central California.
Even more rain and snow are expected to hit America’s most populous state.
About 160,000 businesses and homes in California lost power on Tuesday, January 10, according to tracking site Poweroutage.us.
A new storm will hit the north of the state on Wednesday the 11th with up to 18 centimeters of new precipitation and “several additional feet of snow” in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
The entity described the phenomenon as “an endless onslaught of events produced by an atmospheric river”, the most powerful storm system since 2005.
VIDEOS | The governor of California declares a state of emergency in the face of a massive storm. pic.twitter.com/qriPq0YZuL
– EFE News (@EFEnoticias) January 5, 2023
The town of Montecito, home to Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, was hit by several inches of rain that increased the risk of dangerous landslides.
Authorities in the municipality, 90 minutes from Los Angeles, ordered the evacuation of all people on Monday, the 9th, and a journalist from the AFP he saw police blockades to prevent people from entering the town, where several roads were flooded.
The city with multi-million dollar properties is especially vulnerable to landslides. It sits at the foot of a mountain range that was the scene of a fire five years ago that burned hundreds of square miles, stripping the slopes of the vegetation that normally holds the ground firm.
TV host Ellen DeGeneres posted a video on Twitter of a raging stream of brown water. “It’s crazy,” she told her followers.
Montecito is under mandatory evacuation. We are on higher ground so they asked us to shelter in place. Please stay safe everyone. pic.twitter.com/7dv5wfNSzG
— Ellen DeGeneres (@EllenDeGeneres) January 9, 2023
“The stream by our house never flows. It’s probably about nine feet (2.7 meters) high, and it’s going to go up another two feet (more than half a meter).”
It was not clear how many of the town’s residents, who also include Larry David, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Rob Lowe, complied with the order to evacuate.
Celebrities on alert
Actress Jennifer Aniston and television host Oprah Winfrey, among others, own homes valued at millions of dollars in Montecito.
Spokesmen for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not respond to a request for comment.
Several swaths of the state were under flood watch amid near-record downpours in recent weeks, with even more rain forecast for days to come.
“There will be a brief pause in rain in the west tonight before the next atmospheric river arrives on Wednesday the 11th. There will be moisture before the arrival of a large cyclone in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which will produce heavy precipitation in northern California “, He said NWS.
In the past 30 days, Montecito received rainfall “well above our annual average,” firefighters said on Twitter.
Five years ago, landslides triggered by heavy rainfall left 23 dead in the city.
That area is not the only one where evacuations have been ordered.
In Santa Cruz County, near San Francisco, more than 30,000 residents were also forced to leave by order of authorities.
In San Luis Obispo County, authorities have called off the search for a missing 5-year-old boy because the waters are too dangerous for divers, Fox News reported, citing a local official.
Several areas suffered near record rainfall in recent days. Grounds are completely waterlogged and the Weather Service has issued flood advisories for much of California.
Although it is difficult to establish a direct relationship between storms and climate change, scientists say that global warming increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
Last week’s storm left tens of thousands of people without power, caused severe flooding and triggered landslides. It came just days after another deluge of rain on New Year’s Eve.