WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Thousands of California residents fled their homes as severe weather battered the state.
- The recent string of storms has killed at least 17 people since December.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tweeted Tuesday that four more atmospheric rivers are heading toward California in the next 10 days.
The death toll in California hits 17 as a relentless string of storms batters the state since last month. Rivers turned into gushing flood water, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate from towns with histories of deadly mudslides.
The latest Pacific storm unleashed heavy rainfall and winds, putting communities under flood warnings and evacuation orders, knocking out power, and turning city streets into rivers as mudslides cut off highways.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), “heavy to excessive” rainfall was expected across the state, especially in southern California. Wind gusts were clocked at more than 64km/h in many places, threatening more than 33 million Californians.
On Tuesday, San Francisco advised residents to take “shelter and do not travel” for three hours, starting about 12:30 p.m. PT after the NWS warned of a flash flood for the region.
The next storm is expected to arrive Wednesday in Northern California and will also affect the Pacific Northwest. Another storm system is projected to arrive Saturday and Sunday.
The entire seaside community of Montecito was ordered to evacuate on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that left 23 people dead and destroyed over 100 homes in the coastal region. Montecito is home to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, and other celebrities.
On Monday, a young boy had been swept away by the raging floodwaters in San Luis Obispo County while his mother was rescued from the truck she was driving.
Los Angeles firefighters rescued two people stuck in a car that had been swallowed by a 15-foot sinkhole in Chatsworth, California, on Monday.
California’s Office of Emergency Services on Tuesday afternoon posted a message, telling residents to “keep an eye on the radar, keep an eye on anything from your local media, from your local emergency management and from your local National Weather Service.”
Nearly all of the state has seen higher-than-average rainfall totals over the past several weeks, with totals 400% to 600% above average, according to the NWS.