Storms among the most deadly natural disasters in modern history of California

Storms among the most deadly natural disasters in modern history of California


Hilltown Road near Highway 68 in Monterey County is closed where the Salinas River is overflowing with stormwater. January 13, 2023. Photo: AIO Filmz

MATHER, Calif. – As the number of evacuations in Monterey County increases due to the rising river, state and federal emergency officials are scrambling to help residents across storm-ravaged California.

An average of about nine inches of rain has fallen in 18 days.

“These storms continue to be dangerous and not, sorry, dynamic, and they do not pose a threat to communities across the state of California,” Nancy Ward, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said Friday. “These storms are among the deadliest natural disasters in our state’s modern history.”

And it marked the damage: devastating flooding of homes, trash breaks, landslides, hurricane-force winds and a tornado that hit Northern California. At least 20 people have died from storm-related causes.

As of Friday, 6,000 Californians were under evacuation orders and another 20,000 people were without power.

CalOES leaders joined officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service, the Department of Water Resources, the California National Guard, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol in a joint press conference.

Monterey and Santa Cruz counties have been especially under siege.

As of Friday, the Salinas River in Monterey County has risen three feet overnight and river water is flooding nearby farmland. Crews are worried the water could also affect highways 1 and 68 — essentially the only two exit points to get in and out of the Monterey Peninsula.

Last week, piers and piers in Santa Cruz County were severely damaged by the rain and wind that has swept California since December 27.

And these regions “continue to be vulnerable to these next two or three storm systems and include the possibility of a complete shutdown of the Monterey Peninsula,” Ward said.

She added that the state has brought in emergency response resources, including the National Guard to the Santa Barbara area to help clean up debris and prepare for the next round of storms.

National Weather Service Director David Lawrence said the next storm will arrive Friday, but the next major storm will hit Saturday and Saturday night, bringing heavy rain with heavy mountain snow and winds up to 60 mph.

“Not only that rain could produce additional flooding, and we’re certainly going to see some major impacts to travel in the mountains,” Lawrence said. “But those winds could also blow over trees and bring additional power outages down the road.”

Lawrence said another storm system or two could hit early next week before taking a break later next week.

Hilltown Road near Highway 68 in Monterey County is closed where the Salinas River is overflowing with stormwater. January 13, 2023. Photo: AIO Filmz

Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said residents should follow emergency evacuation orders.

“If you’re in these areas, you need to be prepared,” Nieto said. “The river rises slowly, but it also recedes slowly. So if you’re in an area that’s cut off because you haven’t left — you’re going to have to shelter in place for a few days.”

Nieto said this happened once before in 1995.

But with the drought lasting so many years, many people who live here don’t consider how much the Salinas River can flood and flood.

Although the river receded in the last 24 hours, another major storm is on the way for the weekend.

Agency officials said they were doing everything in their power to prepare.

Department of Water Resources principal deputy director Cindy Messer said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has placed plastic sheeting with sandbags for trash, and flood control experts and geological technicians have been called in to inspect and repair infrastructure. broken.

The good news is that the US Drought Monitor’s weekly update released Thursday showed that “extreme” drought has been virtually eliminated a week after the worst category — “exceptional” — was removed from the map. Two weeks ago extreme drought covered 35% of California.

And in the Sierra Nevada and other mountains, the water content of the snowpack is more than 200% of the norm year-to-date and more than 100% of the April 1 average, when it is historically at its peak, according to the Department of State water. The resources.

KTVU’s Lisa Fernandez, Brooks Jarosz and James Torres and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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