‘Extremely dangerous’ storm dumps more rain, snow on California; Recovery continues after tornadoes in Alabama

Written by on January 14, 2023

Rain-soaked Californians are getting another round of storms over the weekend that threaten more flooding, landslides, hail and heavy mountain snow.

The stormy weather came as recovery efforts continue in the state, which has been battered by atmospheric river storms since late December, leaving at least 19 people dead.

A 5-year-old boy also was still missing Saturday after being swept out of his mother’s car by flood waters earlier in the week. Local authorities temporarily suspended the search for the boy, Kyle Doan, Saturday afternoon due to “unsuitable” weather, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook.

Forecasts show rain hitting rural areas in Northern California particularly hard this weekend. Previous storms have soaked and damaged the heavily populated San Francisco Bay area and surrounding coastal communities.

“Each round of rain falling on top of saturated and unstable ground will enhance the risk of new landslides and debris flows,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Reneé Duff said.

Flooding in Napa, mudslide reported near Dublin, California

There were already reports Saturday of significant flooding in parts of Napa County, the heart of Northern California’s wine region, according to the county’s sheriff’s office. Flood warnings were issued north of San Francisco Bay, including Napa, Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. A mudslide prompted road closures near Dublin, California., according to the California Highway Patrol.

Atmospheric rivers, sometimes called “rivers in the sky,” form when a line of warm, moist air, usually coming from near islands across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast, falls as heavy rain when it reaches cooler air over land.

Another atmospheric river is expected to hit the state Monday. 

“I know how fatigued you all are,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday, urging caution ahead of incoming storms. “Just maintain a little more vigilance over the course of the next weekend.”

California’s weekend storm forecast

The storm is expected to peak Saturday as it moves inland throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service.

  • More flood risk: With the ground already saturated from previous rainfall, more flooding and possible landslides are expected across the state through Monday, according to the weather service forecast.
  • Heavy snow: Heavy mountain snows of 3 to 6 feet and strong winds are also forecast to create whiteout conditions in the mountains of northern and central California, making travel nearly impossible. The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab said Saturday morning that it received 21.3 inches of snow in 24 hours and that its snowpack of about 10 feet was expected to grow several more feet by Monday.
  • Strong winds: Wind advisories are also in place Saturday for coastal California and the Central Valley with sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph and gusts of 50 mph.
  • Power outages: Stormy weather may cause more trees to fall and more power outages Saturday, said David Lawrence, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Households without power were down to about 25,000 Saturday evening from about 68,000 at one point during the day, according to poweroutage.us.

“People will become complacent, but the ground is saturated. It is extremely, extremely dangerous,” Nancy Ward, the director of the governor’s emergency services office said at a Friday news conference. “And that water can continue to rise well after the storms have passed.”

California damage assessments expected to surpass $1 billion

Officials have already begun damage assessments, which are expected to surpass $1 billion.

As heavy rain, mudslides and hurricane-force winds have walloped the state, California has seen homes flooded, roofs torn off houses, levees breached, cars submerged and trees uprooted.

About 14 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Ventura River in southern California as a result of the storms, according to Ventura County health officials. Two sewer lines also leaked into San Antonio Creek this week due to storm damage.

MORE:California storms are hitting schools hard. How is flooding affecting students?

California, long plagued by drought, has reported a total of more than nine inches of rainfall on average across the state over the last 18 days. Some parts of the state have already met their average annual rainfalls, Lawrence said.

President Joe Biden on Monday issued an emergency declaration to support the storm response in more than a dozen counties. But Newsom has said he is still waiting on Biden to declare a major disaster declaration that would provide more resources.

Recovery continues after tornadoes tear through Alabama, Georgia

As severe weather continues to besiege California, the South is recovering from a series of deadly tornadoes

Recovery efforts continued into the weekend after numerous tornadoes tore through the South, killing at least nine people in Alabama and Georgia.

Residents salvaged belongings Friday, and rescue teams searched for survivors among the rubble, sometimes digging into collapsed homes to free trapped residents.

The massive storm system Thursday flipped mobile homes, uprooted trees, collapsed buildings, snapped utility poles and derailed a freight train.

READ MORE:Civil rights legacy puts ‘the eyes of the world’ on tornado damage in Selma, Alabama

Tornado damage was reported in at least 14 counties in Alabama and 14 in Georgia, according to the National Weather Service. At least 35 possible tornado touchdowns were reported across the Southeast, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said.

Meteorologists say it may take days to fully understand the strength of the storm.

Among those killed in the storm was a Georgia Department of Transportation worker and a 5-year-old child who was riding in a vehicle hit by a falling tree in Georgia, officials said.

The child was identified as Egan Jeffcoat by his grandmother, ABC News reported. His mother, Tabatha Anglin, wasn’t injured, the grandmother said, but another adult in the car had critical injuries, Butts County officials previously said.

A fundraiser for Egan’s mother had raised nearly $20,000 Saturday. His mother had picked him up early from school so they could make it home before the storm, but a tree fell on the car, killing Egan, according to the fundraiser, which was verified by GoFundMe. 

“His mom was a single mom, and Egan was her entire world,” the fundraiser reads.

Dig deeper: More coverage of flooding

Contributing: Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser; The Associated Press

Contact Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

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