Friday, March 24, 2023

Atmospheric river floods California cities, bringing rain, snow – Usky News

SANTA CRUZ (US): More than 9,000 California residents were placed under evacuation orders Friday in a new atmospheric river Heavy rains, gusts and strong winds caused rivers and creeks to swell and flood several major highways and small rural communities.
In Santa Cruz County, a creek swollen by rain destroyed a portion of Main Street in Soquel, a city of 10,000 people, isolating several neighborhoods. County officials said crews were working to clear trees and other debris and find a way for people to cross the creek.
County officials told city residents to stay indoors. Heather Wingfield, a teacher who runs a small urban farm with her husband in Soquel, said she and her neighbors were stuck in their homes for a while because Bates Creek was once a main road.
“It’s terrible,” she said. “Hopefully no one has a medical emergency.”
Wingfield said his neighbors’ water infrastructure was washed out as well, but his family’s well will keep him with running water. She said the flooding has not yet affected her farm, where neighboring families pick pumpkins, squash and sunflowers every summer.
Wingfield said that living near Soquel Creek meant that there could be flooding, but “I never thought it would wash away the culvert.”
Evacuations were ordered in nearby Watsonville, where bay water spilled over and flooded streets with several feet of water, flooding dozens of homes. In one house, the chickens sat on a bar near the roof in the backyard to avoid water.
In central California, the Tule River overflowed its banks and flooded many homes. Videos posted to social media showed a handful of homes and cars under a few feet of water and at least one street washed away in Springville, a Tulare County town of about 1,000 people in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada.
Evacuation orders were given for other areas of the county, including parts of the small community of Cutler because of a levee break and areas of Exeter because a creek overflowed its banks.
Kernville, another foothill town in Kern County, also experienced flash flooding. Officials said no injuries or calls for rescue had been reported as of Friday afternoon, but the river, known to locals as “Killer Kern,” continued to rise.
Morgan Lynn, 24, lives near the Searcy River and says she has been warned to evacuate her neighborhood. She is keeping an eye on the rising waters in case she and her lover need to leave.
“It had doubled in size if not tripled overnight,” she said.
Several nearby public parks, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, were closed to visitors due to heavy rains.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, flooding blocked sections of several major highways, including Interstate 580 in Oakland. and Peet’s Coffee, a California-based chain, reported that following a heavy storm, an investigation is underway to determine the cause of a roof collapse that killed an employee at a distribution center leased by the company in Oakland. Took life
Martin Gonzalez, 57, had worked there for 17 years. The company said another employee suffered minor injuries.
The storm marked the state’s 10th atmospheric river of the winter, a storm that brought heavy amounts of rain and snow to the state and helped ease three years of drought conditions. State reservoirs that had dropped to astonishingly low levels are now well above average for this time of year, prompting state officials to release water from dams to aid flood control and make room for more rain Did.
State transportation officials said Friday that they removed so much snow from roadways in February that it would be enough to fill the iconic Rose Bowl 100 times.
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has declared states of emergency in 34 counties in recent weeks, and the Biden administration approved presidential disaster declarations for some on Friday morning, a move that would bring more federal aid to the state.
Emergency officials have warned people to stay off the roads if they can and to heed flash flood warnings.
The atmospheric river, known as the ‘Pineapple Express’ because it brings warm subtropical moisture into the Pacific from near Hawaii, was melting the lower parts of a huge snowpack that had built up in the California mountains. Snowfall levels in the Sierra Nevada, which provides about a third of the state’s water supply, are more than 180% above the April 1 average, when it historically peaked.
Forecasters said the snow cover at higher elevations is so vast that it was expected to be able to absorb rain, but below 4,000 feet (1,219 m) the snow may begin to melt, potentially contributing to flooding. Is.
Lake Auroville – one of the state’s most important reservoirs and home to the nation’s tallest dam – holds so much water that officials plan to open the dam’s spillways on Friday for the first time since April 2019. Reservoir water has risen 180 feet (54.8 m) since 1 December. Seven of the state’s 17 major reservoirs are still below their historical averages this year.
Despite record rainfall in January, Newsom was concerned that the rains would stop and asked state water regulators to temporarily suspend some environmental regulations so the state could take more water from rivers and streams to store for later. But so much rain has fallen since then that regulators on Thursday rescinded their previous order to allow more water to remain in the rivers.
State water managers were also grappling with how best to use the storms to help them emerge from severe drought. On Friday, Newsom signed an executive order making it easier for farmers and water agencies to use floodwaters to refill underground aquifers. Groundwater provides an average of about 41 percent of the state’s supply each year. But many of these underground basins have been overdrawn in recent years.
Forecasters have warned that mountain travel could be difficult from impossible during the latest storm. At higher elevations, the storm was predicted to drop heavy snow of up to 8 feet (2.4 m) over several days.
Yet another atmospheric river is already in the forecast for early next week. State climatologist Michael Anderson said a third Pacific region and possibly a fourth are taking shape.
Anderson said California appeared “well on its way to a fourth year of drought” ahead of the early winter series of storms. “We are in a very different position now,” he said.


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