Heavy rains returned to California, which is still under a state of emergency, on Monday, and authorities feared dangerous flooding amid the series of storms that have already killed 12 people in the western American state. The mudslide-prone upscale town of Montecito, near Santa Barbara, where Prince Harry, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah live, is under a mandatory evacuation order.
The US Weather Service (NWS) has issued flood warnings for large parts of California. In the center of the country, for example, the models predict up to 13 centimeters of rain on Monday, on soil that is already completely saturated with water.
state of emergency
“Two consecutive major episodes of heavy rain and snow are expected in California over the next two days,” NWS said. The state has faced a string of storms and torrential rain for the past 10 days, which has killed 12 people California Gov. Gavin Newsom “We believe the worst is yet to come,” he told reporters on Sunday.
US President Joe Biden approved a declaration of a state of emergency on Monday to facilitate state aid. According to the specialist website PowerOutage, almost 107,000 households were without electricity at noon. The NWS warned of the risks of “rapidly rising waters, landslides and potential large river floods”.
In this state, which has been plagued by chronic drought for two decades and is regularly plagued by fires, many areas of vegetation have been devastated, increasing the risk of landslides.
“Fire-weakened areas are most at risk from mudslides and rapid water flows,” the NWS warns.
On the coast, several areas of the upscale community of Montecito, near Santa Barbara, where Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, Oprah and host Ellen DeGeneres live, were hit by an evacuation order Monday. The area is devastated by a 2017-18 fire that devastated 1,100 km2 and local firefighters are urging residents to vacate their villas. In 2018, 23 people died in mudslides.
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“Over the past 30 days, Montecito has experienced between 12 and 20 inches of rain, depending on location, well above our annual average of 17 inches. ‘ they reminded the fire department on Twitter. “This cumulative rain puts the community at greater risk of flooding and mudslides. »
In Santa Cruz County near San Francisco, where a pier was destroyed last week, around 32,000 residents were also affected by an evacuation order.
While it’s difficult to establish a direct link between these storms and climate change, scientists regularly state that warming increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
Last week’s storm had already cut off power to tens of thousands of people, caused severe flooding and triggered landslides. It had come just days after another torrential downpour on New Year’s Eve.