California storms — Exactly five years after a devastating mudslide in coastal Montecito, California, killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes, about 10,000 residents of the Santa Barbara County community and its surrounding canyons were ordered to evacuate Monday amid the downpours that continue to pound the state.
The National Weather Service reported that up to 8 inches of rain had fallen in 12 hours, with much more expected. The service’s Los Angeles office issued a warning about “DANGEROUS LIFE THREATENING FLASH FLOODING” in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in the late afternoon.
The canyon communities under evacuation orders around Montecito are located beneath hillsides that have been charred by wildfires in recent years. In Santa Barbara, there were also evacuations.
Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as former sports stars Troy Aikman and Jimmy Connors, were among the celebrities affected by the 2018 disaster in Montecito, which is now also home to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The death toll from California’s onslaught of violent storms rose to 14 on Monday, as two major episodes promised more devastation and up to a foot of rain. A 5-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters and whose fate is unknown is not included in the death toll.
The weather service predicted that the Sacramento area, which has been battered by high winds and heavy rains, could receive 12 inches of rain by Wednesday night.
Mudslides have closed both southbound lanes of scenic Highway 17, and the Browns Valley Road Bridge has collapsed into the small river beneath it.
“Two of the more energetic and moisture-laden parade of cyclones… are aimed directly at California,” according to the weather service forecast. “The cumulative effect of multiple heavy rainfall events will result in… rapid water rises, mudslides, and the possibility of major river flooding.”
The first storm hit the state early Monday, dumping up to 5 inches of rain on the central California coast, according to the weather service. Another, due on Tuesday, will primarily target locations in Southern California.
“Flooding is expected to be widespread, even catastrophic in some locations around the coastal mountains and the northern and central Sierra,” AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bauer said. He predicted that more than a dozen monitored river locations would be above flood stage.
President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency late Sunday, citing “emergency conditions caused by successive and severe winter California storms, flooding, and mudslides.” He directed federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts.
NEWSOME DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY: California Governor Gavin Newsom has asked the Biden administration to declare a state of emergency in advance of the upcoming storms.
Other developments include:
- The US Forest Service has issued an avalanche warning for the greater Lake Tahoe area until Wednesday. Avalanche warnings are also in effect in parts of the eastern Sierra Nevada.
- Evacuation orders or warnings have been issued for residents of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Solano counties in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Monterey in central California.
- According to the tracking website poweroutage.us, nearly 140,000 homes and businesses in the state were without power early Monday.
- The Los Angeles area was bracing for up to 8 inches of rain in the foothills. High surf was predicted to continue through Tuesday. Wind gusts could reach 60 mph along the coast and 70 mph in the mountains, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a wind advisory for parts of southwest California until 10 p.m. Monday.
- Sinkhole swallows two cars in Los Angeles, vehicles submerged in water
- The major storm is expected to affect southern California through Tuesday, bringing heavy rain, damaging winds, and a slight chance of thunderstorms, according to the Los Angeles weather service.
The weather service predicts widespread and significant flooding on urban roads and rivers. California storms will also create hazardous driving conditions and the possibility of power outages.
There is a chance of up to 8 inches of rain in the Los Angeles foothills late Monday and Tuesday. Along the coast, the weather service issued high surf advisories.
Vehicles were seen submerged in water in some parts of the city on Monday. Late Monday, a sinkhole swallowed two vehicles in the Chatsworth area of northeast Los Angeles. According to authorities, two people escaped on their own, and firefighters used ropes and an aerial ladder to rescue two others who suffered minor injuries.
During a flash flood warning, 18 people were rescued from the Ventura River.
On Monday afternoon, eighteen people were rescued after becoming stranded on an island in the Ventura River in western Ventura County due to heavy rain and flooding.
According to the Ventura County Fire Department, one person required medical attention for minor injuries, seven people were rescued using a ladder, seven others were rescued by the aerial team, and four people were able to walk out of the building.
Due to the latest atmospheric river’s continuous heavy rain, the county experienced severe flooding and mudslides. A flash flood warning has been issued for all of southern Ventura County, and it is expected to last until Tuesday as another storm front approaches the area overnight.