A new storm began Saturday morning to hit California, which could face “catastrophic flooding” after already three weeks of unprecedented rain that has caused at least 19 deaths.
A new low-pressure area is expected to “approach the coast Saturday morning and move inland during the day,” causing flooding and landslides, the US National Weather Service (NWS) forecast overnight.
The Monterey Peninsula could be cut off from the world by rising seas, and the entire nearby town of Salinas, which has a population of 160,000, could be inundated. “The entire lower Salinas Valley will experience catastrophic flooding,” the NWS warned, blocking many roads.
Kelley O’Connell, a resident of the affected area, is concerned after a dam burst near her home.
“If they drain the dams or if it rains more, we’re one field away,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle while sandbagging her home.
New storm Monday
Several areas in the region are under evacuation orders, and the affluent Pacific Coast city of Monterey could be cut off from the world if roads are cut off by the waves.
“The Monterey Peninsula could become an island because of the flooding,” local sheriff Tina Nieto warned, urging residents to prepare to avoid being trapped by the flooding.
John Guru, a local resident, kept four days’ supplies in his house and two days in his car in case he got stuck on the road. “I don’t know how serious the situation can get,” he told the Monterey Herald.
A series of storms have battered California in recent weeks. Short breaks hardly allow the authorities to clean up the mess or restore power.
And according to meteorologists, it’s not over yet.
On Monday, a public holiday in the US, a new “atmospheric flow”, a narrow band in the atmosphere that transports huge amounts of moisture from the tropics, is expected. It will bring “new waves of extreme precipitation,” the NWS warns.
A meter of snow
In the mountains, this precipitation will result in heavy snowfall, with more than a meter expected in the Sierra Nevada over the weekend. Enough to make travel dangerous or impossible. An avalanche warning was also issued.
At least 19 people have died since the series of storms began. In particular, drivers were found in their cars trapped by the waves, people were hit by falling trees, a couple were killed by a landslide and bodies were washed away by the floods.
California is used to extreme weather conditions, and winter storms are a daily occurrence. Such an order is, on the other hand, unusual.
While it is difficult to establish a direct link between these storm series and climate change, scientists regularly state that warming increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
However, according to experts, the torrential rains of the past few weeks will not be enough to end the drought that has hit the western American country hard for two decades.