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California Braces for Next Series of Storms

State emergency officials are preparing for the likely possibility that California’s Monterey Peninsula will become an island as more storms hit the rain-soaked region this weekend.

Crews were moving ambulances, firefighters, and first responders to the areas around Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach Jan. 12 as they anticipated rivers in the area to rise and cut residents off from the rest of the state this weekend, California Office of Emergency Management Deputy Director Brian Ferguson told The Epoch Times.

The state has been battered by an unrelenting series of “atmospheric river” storms in the past two weeks, leaving flooded rivers, mudslides, death, and destruction behind.

So far, 18 people have died as a result, Furguson said. The number of casualties rose Wednesday after another person died in Sonoma County.

Rescuers resume their search on Jan. 11, 2023, for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was swept away by floodwaters near San Miguel, Calif., on Jan. 9, 2023. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Many Californians were drying out during a break in the weather Thursday but are in for another soaking this weekend.

Just outside of South Lake Tahoe in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the sun was shining Thursday outside the local Strawberry Station General Store. The store is a stopover for locals and travelers along Highway 50 in search of chains or necessities.

“Today, we’ve got blue skies, so that makes it nice,” store owner David Schlosser told The Epoch Times.

About three feet of snow was stacked around the yellow building, sticking to its red metal roof. Much of it was melting off as the day wore on. The store sits at about 5,500 feet along the freeway leading to ski areas and the tourist destination of Lake Tahoe.

Business has been slow this winter, though, Schlosser said.

“We do have some busy days for sure, but between the busy days, it’s really slow,” he said. “When these big storms come in, people have learned not to travel on those days.”

Epoch Times Photo
Vehicles travel along a snow-lined U.S. Route 50 the morning after a winter storm pelted the region with a large amount of snow, in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Jan. 1, 2023. (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Forecasters with the National Weather Service were expecting this weekend’s storms to dump heavy rain on the state’s northern region and deliver more mountain snow.

“We’ll start to get our next system moving across the state Friday,” Matt Solum, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told The Epoch Times.

The next two storms will pick up Saturday and Sunday, easing by Tuesday is a continuation of the atmospheric river system that brings in long narrow rivers of moisture drawn from the tropics, Solum said.

The San Francisco Bay Area is expected to be hit hardest this weekend, Solum said. Heavy rain could drench the state as far south as Fresno and north to the Oregon border. Southern California may get lighter rain compared to the northern regions, but cooler temperatures with the storm could bring snow to mountain areas about 5,000 feet.

“There’s a cold front moving through as we get into Saturday and Saturday night,” Solum said.

A large tree fell during rainstorms in Sacramento, California
A drone view of a tree that fell during a winter storm with high winds in Sacramento, Calif. on Jan. 8, 2023. (Fred Greaves/Reuters)

Snow has already piled up in the Sierra Mountains in central California in the past two weeks, reaching above the yearly snowpack average. The University of California at Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab reported 4.3 inches of water-logged snow in 24 hours.

The National Weather Service reported Jan. 11 California’s snowpack reached 102 percent of the April 1 average—the typical date when the state’s snowpack level peaks.

The state now has 226 percent of average snowpack for this time of year which is higher than the snowpack trace of 1982–1983 in all three sections of the Sierra Mountains, according to the National Weather Service.

Rainfall totals have reached records in some counties since Dec. 26. According to the National Weather Service, record totals were seen in Oakland at 12.9 inches, the San Francisco Airport at 11.6 inches, and Stockton at 8.1 inches.

Severe Weather California
A man wades through a flooded street in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos, Calif., on Jan. 9, 2023. (Nic Coury/AP Photo)

Other locations recorded high amounts, including Santa Barbara which received 12.1 inches, Napa recorded 11.21 inches, and downtown Sacramento saw 9.6 inches during the same time.

California averaged 8.6 inches of precipitation and the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area received an average of 13.3 inches, the National Weather Service reported.

Emergency shelters have opened across the state aiding people affected by evacuations. About 840 people were housed at them Thursday, mostly in Merced, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara counties, the state reported.

Evacuations continued throughout the state in the hardest-hit areas. Emergency officials reported about 21,000 people were under evacuation orders, according to the latest count issued Wednesday.

The coastal regions near Santa Cruz were slammed with flooding and devastation in the spate of wet weather.

Seacliff State Beach remained closed Thursday. The beach and most state parks in Santa Cruz County will be closed through Jan. 12 after sustaining “extensive damage” in the recent storms, California State Parks reported.

Epoch Times Photo
Kim Ochoa leaves her Merced, Calif., home, which is surrounded by floodwaters, as storms continue to batter the state on Jan. 10, 2023. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Britt Hoberg, supervisor at the Santa Cruz Wharf, told The Epoch Times the popular fishing wharf was only closed one day last week and remained open this week.

The wharf, situated next to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, lost about a dozen pilings and a few sprinkler systems under the structure but was in good shape overall. As long as the sea swell doesn’t rise, the wharf should stay open, he said.

“The swell is what gets us,” Hoberg said. “We should do fine and it should stay open.”

The beach outside the boardwalk, however, was full of driftwood.

“The beaches are open but they’re just covered with giant logs and all kinds of fun stuff,” Hoberg said.

Jill McLaughlin

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