California Brace for Powerful Atmospheric River Storms

An aerial view shows the damage to a road in Sacramento County near Wilton, California, USA on January 1, 2023 after a storm caused a levee breach and flooding.

Fred Greaves | Reuters

Another atmospheric river storm threatens California with flooding, landslides and power outages Wednesday as millions of residents recover from several devastating storms. Caused a levee breach last week.

Flood monitoring is in place in central and northern California, making the ground more saturated and vulnerable to flooding and rapid runoff. The new storm is expected to exacerbate damage in the already devastated area, bringing up to 4 inches of rain and 40 mph winds to the valley, according to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

Authorities in the City of Watsonville and Santa Cruz County have issued mandatory evacuation orders for communities at high risk of flooding. San Mateo County, south of San Francisco, has declared a regional emergency and activated its Emergency Operations Center.

“Prepare for floods, downed trees and power outages now,” the National Weather Service forecaster for the San Francisco Bay Area said Tuesday night, warning residents that the weather system will bring heavy rain and winds.

South Sacramento County will attempt to repair part of the 34-mile levee system along the Cosmnes River before the storms arrive Wednesday.

A landslide along Highway 92 West in San Mateo County following a severe storm that hit the west coast of California, USA on December 31, 2022.

Taifun Koskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The new storm is part of a series of atmospheric river storms that climate scientists predict will continue this month. Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow streams in the atmosphere that carry most of the water vapor out of the tropics. according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“These storms typically bring heavy rainfall and extreme snowfall rates in a relatively short period of time,” said Daniel McEvoy, a climatologist at the Western Regional Climate Center.

Atmospheric rivers account for up to 50% of California’s annual rainfall. Driving around 84% of flood damage in western states. Recent heavy rains have brought some relief to drought-plagued California, but scientists warn the storms won’t immediately alleviate the state’s severe shortage of groundwater and soil moisture. I’m here.

UCLA climate scientist Danielle Swain said at least two atmospheric river storms are predicted in the next five days that could lead to more severe flooding.

“This is not a one-off. This is an ongoing sequence,” Swain said. “The risk of major flooding looks like the pattern we’re in with this series of intensifying storms.”

Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that the state’s operations center was at the highest emergency level and that the flood operations center was coordinating efforts such as bringing sandbags to local residents. said it had set up shelters and was ready to dispatch staff to hospitals and emergency services.

Cars are stacked next to flooded wheelchairs after storm flooding in Sacramento County, Wilton, California, USA, January 2, 2023.

Fred Greaves | Reuters California Brace for Powerful Atmospheric River Storms

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