More than 17 million people across California and Nevada were under flood watches early Monday as the storm made its menacing approach — the 11th atmospheric river to hit the West this winter.
A new storm is coming On the heels of another atmospheric river, may increase flooding and damage in some locations. Already, people in central and northern California are crowding into shelters and coping with flooded neighborhoods, muddy rivers, collapsed bridges and impassable roads.
The next such event will bring rain and snow to much of Oregon and Washington before plunging into southern California on Monday. Parts of northern and central California could get totals of up to 8 inches.
Parts of Salinas and other parts of Monterey County, south of San Francisco, could be cut off by flooding on the Salinas River, officials warned, urging more residents to prepare to flee.
The storm will complicate efforts to repair a bank breach that occurred Friday night on the swollen Pajaro River, where evacuation warnings for 5,000 residents will be extended.
Water gushed more than 120 feet through the breach and into nearby Bajaro, forcing thousands to evacuate as crews rescued others. Monterey Sheriff Tina Nieto said more than 200 people have been rescued from flooding in the area.
Many Pajaro residents are farm workers who could lose not only their property but also their ability to earn a living for a while if continued flooding affects agriculture, said Luis Alejo, chairman of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.
“These are the people who can least endure this kind of hardship,” he said.
In 12 California counties, nearly 500 people are in 30 shelters, the majority in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, north of the Monterey area, the California governor’s office of emergency services said Sunday.
President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom to free up money for millions of residents affected by severe weather this year. Newsom on Sunday expanded the proclamation to include six additional counties, including Calaveras, Del Norte, Glenn, Kings, San Benito and San Joaquin.
The last atmospheric river turned the surrounding areas into lakes
Following heavy rains that have battered California over the past few days, pushing rivers and creeks over their banks, pictures from across the state show neighborhoods looking like lakes.
The California Highway Patrol used a helicopter to rescue a man trapped in the Salinas River in King City, the agency said in a Facebook post. “The high river swept away a driver and his car, but the driver was able to escape the vehicle and make it to an island in the middle of the flooded Salinas River.” Mail said.
Similar rescues have taken place across the state, with California National Guard troops responding with high-water vehicles.
In parts of Kern County — where evacuation orders were in place — the flooding was so bad that a shed, a hot tub and full-sized trees, complete with root balls, floated down the Kern River in Kernville, one resident said.
“The river is going around some RVs and mobile homes right now. It’s really unbelievable,” said Danny Hausch, who has worked in Kernville for 17 years and has never seen anything like it.
To the north, heavy rains pounded Santa Cruz County on Friday, stranding about 700 residents in Soquel after the main road that connects the community to the area failed, said Steve Wiesner, the county’s assistant director of public works.
“We’re an island now,” resident Molly Watson told CNN.
Another hard-hit area was Tulare County, where video from Springville showed devastating damage after Friday’s severe flooding.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” Hattie Shepherd told CNN. “Many of the hard workers have lost their homes and possessions and have been displaced.”
What to expect on Monday as the storm moves in
The recent stormy rivers are the latest to inundate the state after a dam Similar storms in December and January There was also deadly flooding and widespread damage.
The new wave is hitting areas already buried by heavy snowfall over the past two weeks. Melting snow Flooding will play a role in the coming days, forecasters say.
While there is uncertainty about the system’s timing, forecasters know it will bring another round of heavy rain and heavy snow to the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.
The National Weather Service’s forecast center has issued a 3 out of 4 risk for heavy rain across Northern California on Monday and heavy rain across parts of the Central California coast and Sierra Nevada on Tuesday.
Rain is expected to begin intensifying late Monday and heavy rain, combined with snowmelt, is forecast to trigger more flooding Tuesday through Wednesday. National Weather Service.
The The National Weather Service has issued a warning “Significant flooding impacts” below 5,000 feet elevation in large parts of central California through Tuesday.
“Additionally, heavy rain and snowmelt will lead to renewed (more widespread) flooding Monday through Tuesday, particularly in areas with lower elevations and shallower and warmer snowpack,” the National Weather Service said.
Already overflowing creeks and streams, additional rainfall and snowmelt are expected to continue to cause flooding.
In Southern California, peak rainfall rates of up to an inch per hour are expected in the mountains and foothills.
The Weather Service Office in Los Angeles He said residents can expect shallow mud and debris flows from recent burns, downed trees and power lines, and travel delays from flooded roadways and mudslides.
CNN’s Haley Brink, Tina Burnside, Mike Valerio and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.