The storm-hit western US state receives more wind, rain and snow, raising flood fears, causing power outages and making travel dangerous.
The latest in a devastating series of storm systems blew into California, bringing heavy flooding to regions of the western US state that are already under water and threatening to dump up to two meters of snow in some areas.
The latest system Saturday was expected to bring “heavy rain at lower elevations, significant mountain snow, and strong winds,” with “another surge of Pacific moisture” expected Monday, the National Weather Service said ( NWS).
He predicted “catastrophic flooding” throughout the lower Salinas River valley, an important agricultural region south of San Francisco Bay.
An AFP news agency journalist saw the Salinas River breaching its banks in many spots, sometimes covering farm fields for meters even as the rain continued under leaden skies.
The storms of recent weeks were initially welcomed – coming after years of drought – but have now brought “catastrophic” flooding, officials say.
The NWS said an additional 5.0 to 7.5 centimeters of rain could cause new flooding and mudslides, with parts of the Sierra Nevada seeing three to six feet of snow, and heavy winds hitting central and coastal California at up to 80 kph .
Californians warned of ‘catastrophic flooding’ and storm barrels in the eighth incoming storm
The most populous state in the United States has been hit by the near-record downpour over three weeks – an average of nine inches of rain has fallen – with the Salinas Valley among the hardest hit.
On Friday, forecasters warned that the Monterey Peninsula could be cut off and that flooding could hit the entire city of Salinas – home to 160,000 people.
But on Saturday an AFP journalist said that the city itself had so far been largely spared.
Evacuation orders and warnings were widespread, with forecasters saying major roads could be impassable for days — including highways that connect the Monterey Peninsula to the rest of the county.
Around 2030 GMT, 36,000 homes were without power, according to electricity failure.com.
At least 19 people are known to have died from storm-related causes.
New flooding in a ‘soaked’ region is threatening cyclone riders out of California
Between storms, workers got out to clean up some of the mess, shoveling mud from roads even in the heart of Los Angeles and using heavy machinery to remove fallen trees or clear rock slides.
An AFP journalist saw tractors in fields near Salinas fighting to pump flood waters back into the river. New rain was not helping.
And forecasters say the unsettled weather in the Western US – associated with what’s known as an atmospheric river pattern – isn’t done.
Across the mountains, heavy snow made travel dangerous or impossible on a three-day holiday weekend honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., when many people would normally be heading to ski resorts.
Amid the increased risk of measles, officials urged people to stay at home.
Authorities in the Lake Tahoe resort area posted pictures showing dozens of vehicles on the road, stopped by a fierce storm.
Winter storms are not unusual in California. But global warming is making them wetter and wilder.
At the same time, the western United States has been growing more arid for years.
The latest storms are not enough to end the drought but they are “making a good dent,” said Jay Lund, a water resources specialist at the University of California.
READ MORE: Evacuees ordered as California braces for flooding