Emergency declaration for California: Atmospheric river storm prompts evacuations, flood concerns
Written by B87FM on March 10, 2023
Yet another atmospheric river storm blasted into California on Friday, bringing dangerous flooding rains, heavy snow and howling winds to the state, and also triggering evacuation orders.
One person was killed Friday morning when a roof collapsed at a warehouse in Oakland, possibly due to the heavy rains in the area, CNN reported.
In Watsonville, California, in Santa Cruz County, officials ordered people in low-lying areas to evacuate as rivers and streams rose.
Also on Friday, President Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration for California due to the storm and the resulting flooding and landslides, Weather.com said, which added that the move paves the way for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Statewide, more than half of California’s 58 counties were under a state of emergency Friday due to the storm.
- A swath of California is under either a winter storm warning or a flood watch, with the weather expected to continue to cause problems most of the weekend.
- Several inches of rain are expected at lower elevations in parts of California, leading to flooding risks in areas already hit hard by snow, such as Lake Tahoe. Snow will impact higher elevations.
- Wind gusts of over 100 mph were reported in the high elevations of the state on Friday, AccuWeather said.
Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s weather:
Rain, snow melt triggering California floods
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that began Thursday afternoon in northern California and will continue through Sunday morning.
Snow levels are expected to drop to as low as 4,000 feet on Friday night and into Saturday in the eastern Sierra, and there will be periods of heavy rain, according to the National Weather Service.
Portions of the state were under a rare “high risk” warning for excessive rainfall, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
Forecasters say the combination of rain and significant snowmelt could cause life-threatening flooding, mudslides and avalanches.
“It really ups the ante,” said Bob Larson, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.
Of particular concern, he said, are places between 2,000 and 5,000 feet, including Lake Tahoe.
- San Francisco could see between 2 and 4 inches of rain.
- Santa Barbara on the central coast could get 1 to 2 inches.
- Los Angeles could get up to an inch.
- Urban flooding is possible in areas from Redding down to Santa Barbara.
The storm will mostly let up by Sunday but another system is set to hit the state on Monday, Larson said.
“It’s kind of a one-two punch,” he said. “Here we go again.”
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San Bernardino authorities investigate deaths in California
Officials in California were investigating 13 deaths, with eight of those possibly connected to the wintry conditions that slammed parts of the state in late February into early March, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
Authorities have confirmed one directly weather-related death from the earlier storms; the victim was involved in a car accident during the storm and later died at a hospital, the sheriff department announced.
Eight deaths remained under investigation as of Friday, according to authorities.
“The preliminary information we have at this time is that the circumstances observed at the scenes did not present as weather-related,” the news release noted.
Winter storm map
Storm to dump inches of snow over Midwest, Northeast
A separate Midwest storm could bring between 6 and 10 inches of snow to Milwaukee, a few inches to Chicago and 4-8 inches in Detroit.
The brunt of the storm should hit the Midwest Friday before moving east across Pennsylvania and New York.
- Some parts of Pennsylvania and New York could see 3-6 inches of snow.
- New York City may only get about an inch of snow.
- In places like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the storm should mostly bring rain, Larson said.
The storm will also impact parts of the Northeast, with some rain and snow likely late Friday and a stronger chance of snow on Saturday in parts of Connecticut and Maine.
US weather watches and warnings
Rain and thunderstorms are possible across Arkansas, Tennessee, southern Kentucky and into the Carolinas starting Friday.
The storms carry the potential of hail and damaging winds, and temperatures should plummet, with below freezing temperatures expected across much of northern Arkansas.
Meanwhile Florida remains unusually rain-free and unseasonably warm. Drought conditions and fire danger has increased as a result.
National weather radar
Contributing: The Associated Press