California flooding – live: Flash floods, sinkholes shut roads with more storms forecast as rain dents drought

California flooding – live: Flash floods, sinkholes shut roads with more storms forecast as rain dents drought

California was given a brief respite on Thursday from the succession of storms that have soaked the state since the beginning of the year.

As the authorities and residents rushed to recover from existing damage, and flooding and sinkholes continue to cause havoc and block off whole communities, two more storms are forecast to hit on Friday and over the weekend.

The National Weather Service says parts of northwestern and central California have already been hammered by between 10 and 20 inches in the last two weeks, leaving the ground saturated. There are now fears of more devastating flash floods to come.

At least 18 people have now died in incidents linked to the extreme weather with the body of a 43-year-old woman discovered in a submerged vehicle in Sonoma County on Wednesday.

Near the city of Paso Robles, five-year-old Kyle Doan, swept away in the floodwaters when he and his mother got stuck in their car, is still missing.

One small positive of the intense rainfall is that it has made a dent in the severe drought the state has been experiencing.

Key Points

  • Drenching California storms put dent in drought

  • New storm map shows more heavy rainfall for California

  • Death toll climbs to 18 as woman’s body found in submerged car

  • Parents describe horror of losing missing 5-year-old child Kyle Doan

  • California suffers 955 mudslides and flash floods in two weeks as relentless storms continue

Watch: Terrifying moment mother and daughter rescued from sinkhole

04:20 , Oliver O'Connell

Terrifying footage has captured the moment a mother and daughter had to be rescued from a sinkhole in Chatsworth, Los Angeles.

Intense flooding caused a sinkhole to open up on Monday night, swallowing two cars.

A mother and daughter were pulled to safety from an SUV.

Watch below:

Gavin Newsom hints at link between floods and the climate crisis

03:20 , Oliver O'Connell

During a visit to badly-impacted Santa Cruz county on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom hinted at a link between California’s extreme weather and the climate crisis.

“The dries are getting a lot drier the last three years, and the wets are getting a lot wetter. This weather whiplash — is that the new reality?” he said, according to NBC News.

California has been in a state of “megadrought” for the past two decades, intensified by the impacts of global heating, according to UCLA research last year.

The study also found that it could take several years of high precipitation to overcome the mega-drought.

“It’s extremely unlikely that this drought can be ended in one wet year,” UCLA geographer Park Williams said at the time.

Woman’s body found in submerged car in Sonoma County

02:20 , Oliver O'Connell

At least 18 people have now died in incidents linked to the extreme weather with the body of a 43-year-old woman discovered in a submerged vehicle in Sonoma County.

The victim Daphne Fontino had made a final desperate 911 call as her car became trapped in the floodwaters one day earlier.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said that search and rescue teams made the grim discovery along the 6000 block of Trenton-Healdsburg Road, Forestville, on Wednesday morning.

“Our deepest condolences to her family and friends,” the department said in a statement.

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Watch: Major sinkhole opens up after violent storm in Orcutt, California

01:20 , Oliver O'Connell

As an intense series of storms continues to hammer California, sinkholes have become a major problem. Here’s one that opened up in Orcutt, California.

Watch the footage below:

ICYMI: Flooding arrives in the California desert

00:20 , Oliver O'Connell

California’s famous desert resort city Palm Springs was hit by heavy winter storm flash flooding that saw at least one trapped motorist rescued from their vehicle.

The Palm Springs Fire Department carried out the swift water rescue after flooding in a desert wash in the city. A wash is an area in the desert where water once flowed or that floods during heavy rain or flash flooding.

The rescue began at around 5.45pm on Tuesday evening and took around an hour, according to officials.

Graeme Massie reports.

Palm Springs residents rescued as California’s desert city is hit by flash floods

How much rain and snow has fallen?

Thursday 12 January 2023 23:50 , Oliver O'Connell

California was in a lull between storms on Thursday, but more precipitation was expected to arrive on Friday and continue through the weekend. Flooding remained a concern, especially along the Salinas River in Monterey County, because so much rain has fallen.

Downtown San Francisco, for example, received nearly 13.6 inches (34.5 centimetres) of rain from Dec. 26 to Jan. 10. Snowfall so far this season at the summit of the Mammoth Mountain resort in the Eastern Sierra hit 444 inches (11.3 metres).

In the Sierra Nevada and other mountains, the water content of the snowpack is more than 200 per cent of normal to date and more than 100 per cent of the 1 April average, when it is historically at its peak, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

“The automated sensors are registering what they would consider a full seasonal snowpack, about what we would expect on April 1,” state climatologist Michael Anderson told reporters this week.

The snowpack supplies roughly a third of California’s water when it melts and runs off into rivers and reservoirs.

Locally, some reservoirs have seen significant rises in water levels but there are still significant deficits to overcome.

Statewide, reservoir storage is only 82 per cent of average for this time of year. The largest reservoir, Shasta, is at just 44 per cent of capacity. That's only 70 per cent of the average to date. The huge Oroville reservoir is closer to its average but at just 49 per cent of capacity.

And there's concern that the rains could abruptly stop. The end of 2021 was marked by significant storms, but the start of 2022 saw months of bone-dry weather.

There are some hints of a drier pattern developing around 20 January, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, during an online briefing this week.

AP

At least 18 people killed in the storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 23:20 , Oliver O'Connell

At least 18 people have now died in incidents linked to the extreme weather in California, according to authorities.

Among the victims is a 43-year-old woman who was discovered in a submerged vehicle in Sonoma County on Wednesday.

In total, more lives have now been lost in the storms than in the past two years of wildfires in California.

Drenching California storms put dent in drought

Thursday 12 January 2023 22:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Atmospheric rivers pounding California since late last year have coated mountains with a full winter’s worth of snow and begun raising reservoir levels — but experts say it will take much more precipitation to reverse the effects of years of drought.

The US Drought Monitor’s weekly update released on Thursday showed that “extreme” drought has been virtually eliminated a week after the worst category — “exceptional” — was washed off the map. Two weeks ago extreme drought covered 35% of California.

Read on:

Series of drenching California storms put dent in drought

What to expect on Friday and over the weekend

Thursday 12 January 2023 22:20 , Oliver O'Connell

The West Coast will continue to be stuck in a stormy pattern through this weekend with two low-pressure systems expected to impact the coast. The first system will linger just offshore over the Pacific through Friday, then gradually dissipate Friday night. The second system will approach early Saturday and move onshore by Saturday night. Both systems will be accompanied by ample moisture and produce widespread precipitation.

The most impactful precipitation will remain focused along the coasts of northern California and the Pacific Northwest through Friday night, and then precipitation will expand south on Saturday and east on Sunday.

Northern California has been hammered with heavy precipitation events over the past couple of weeks, and any additional rainfall could pose a threat of flash flooding. This weekend, precipitation will fall as snow in the higher elevations of the West, and heavy mountain snow will be possible in parts of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades. Heavy mountain snow could also be possible for the higher peaks of the central and southern Rockies.

NOAA forecast for the continental United States 15 January 2023 (NOAA)
NOAA forecast for the continental United States 15 January 2023 (NOAA)

Voices: I’ve already had many terrifying near misses in the California storms - not everyone is as lucky

Thursday 12 January 2023 22:05 , Oliver O'Connell

Based in San Francisco, The Independent’s Josh Marcus and his family have had three near-misses since the deluge began in California. He writes that not everyone is as lucky as they have been.

I’ve had scary near misses in the California storms - not everyone is as lucky

What’s next for the California storms?

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:50 , Oliver O'Connell

More details from the National Weather Service below as another impactful system takes aim at the Bay Area on Friday:

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Parents describe horror of losing missing 5-year-old child Kyle Doan in California floods

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:38 , Oliver O'Connell

Authorities are still searching for Kyle Doan, a five-year-old who was swept from his mother’s arms on Monday amid rising flood waters in California near the two of Paso Robles.

The boy went missing on Monday, when his mother, Lindsy Doan, was driving the kindergartener to Lillian Larsen Elementary School, where Ms Doan also works as a special education teacher.

Her route took her through the intersection of San Marcos Road and Wellsona Road, near a creek swollen with flood waters, the Los Angeles Times reports. The family said the intersection wasn’t properly marked for nearby hazards, and fast-moving waters swept the Doans’ car into a nearby tree.

Josh Marcus reports from San Francisco.

Family describes losing missing child 5-year-old Kyle Doan in California floods

NWS notes impact of rain on drought

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:20 , Oliver O'Connell

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California flooding could bring deluge of snakes

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:50 , Oliver O'Connell

As large parts of California are battered by incessant rainfall due to the 50-year storm, experts are warning that the aftermath of the flooding may also bring a plethora of troubles for the golden state, including a spike in snake sightings.

Stuti Mishra reports.

Warning California flooding will bring deluge of snakes

Extreme drought almost entirely eradicated from California in wake of storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:20 , Oliver O'Connell

“Extreme” and “Exceptional” drought, the two most severe forms of drought have been almost entirely eliminated in California after weeks of storms and rainfall caused by the atmospheric river that has soaked the state since the beginning of the year.

According to data from the US Drought Monitor, areas experiencing Exceptional drought fell from 7.16 per cent to zero between 27 December and 10 January; and areas experiencing Extreme drought fell from 28.33 percent to just 0.32 per cent.

Almost all of the state remains in the Severe to Moderate drought classification, but only a tiny portion of the very north of the state is still classified as in the extreme category.

Parts of California have received more than three feet of rain since Christmas, while the Sierra Nevada Mountains have begun winter with a record snowfall that has already surpassed seasonal averages.

The data includes rainfall up until 4am local time on 10 January and so does not include the last two days of intense rainfall.

US Drought Monitor data for California 27 December 2022 (US Drought Monitor)
US Drought Monitor data for California 27 December 2022 (US Drought Monitor)
US Drought Monitor data for California 10 January 2023 (US Drought Monitor)
US Drought Monitor data for California 10 January 2023 (US Drought Monitor)

California homeless population in ‘precarious situation’

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:50 , Oliver O'Connell

The wet and blustery weather left California’s large homeless population in a precarious situation. At least two homeless people in Sacramento County died and more than a dozen people were rescued from a homeless encampment on the Ventura River.

Theo Harris, who has lived on San Francisco’s streets since 2016, fortified his shelter with tarps and zip ties Tuesday and took in his girlfriend after her tent flooded.

“The wind has been treacherous, but you just got to bundle up and make sure you stay dry,” Harris said. “Rain is part of life. It’s going to be sunny. It’s going to rain. I just got to strap my boots up and not give up.”

On Monday night, streets flooded in several parts of Los Angeles, with water threatening a homeless encampment at an intersection in Hollywood.

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AP

Monterey Peninsula may be cut off by flooding

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:20 , Oliver O'Connell

The flooding of the Salinas River may cut off road access to the Monterey Peninsula, county officials warned.

It could happen as soon as Thursday afternoon and might last for up to three days — until Sunday.

“Some of the roadways are going to be closed and you could be stuck on one side or the other,” Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, NBC Bay Area reports.

“Residents both on the peninsula and in the Salinas area should expect to be cut off for two to three days,” an advisory from Monterey County reads. Residents are urged to stay off roads and postpone travel.

Evacuation orders are already in effect for low-lying areas along the Salinas River, from north of Highway 68 to the Pacific Ocean.

“All residents and workers are urged to plan ahead,” Monterey City advised on Wednesday evening. “Anyone who is on the peninsula when flooding occurs will not be able to leave. Anyone who is not on the peninsula will not be able to enter.”

Evacuation maps are available here.

Watch: What impact will California’s floods have on historic drought conditions

Thursday 12 January 2023 18:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Small communities stranded by deluge

Thursday 12 January 2023 18:20 , Oliver O'Connell

Some people found themselves stranded in small communities inundated with water and mud.

“We’re all stuck out here,” Brian Briggs said, describing a scary night during which the deluge unleashed mudslides in remote Matilija Canyon that buried one house and cut off the only road to nearby Ojai. The canyon creek began to flood yards and the surrounding hills, which were stripped of vegetation in the 2017 Thomas Fire, began to tumble down in the dark.

Mudflows dragged sheds, gazebos and outhouses into the creek, Briggs said. After helping neighbors get to higher ground, he returned home to find his fence destroyed by waist-deep mud.

A helicopter dropped 10 sheriff’s deputies Tuesday to help the residents of dozens of canyon homes.

AP

Crews working around clock on downed trees in Bay Area

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:50 , Oliver O'Connell

In San Francisco, a tree fell on a commuter bus on Tuesday without causing injuries and lightning struck the city’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid building without damage. In South San Francisco, high winds also ripped away part of the roof on a large apartment building.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Crews wielding chainsaws were working around the clock to clear all the downed trees across the Bay Area. Arborist Remy Hummer said he expected many more trees to fall as rains returned.

“The soil is basically like a sponge, and at some point he can’t hold any more water and trees become essentially almost buoyant in the soil and very loose. And then you get the combinations of high winds and that’s when you get tree failures, meaning full trees uprooting and falling over,” he said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

State working to clear massive snowfall in mountains

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:35 , Oliver O'Connell

State agencies are working hard to clear roadways in the eastern Sierra mountains that have seen huge snowfalls as lower elevations have struggled with torrential rain and flooding. The snowpack exceeds previous record levels seen over the winter of 1982-83.

The Palisades Tahoe ski resort reported that it had received 300 inches (7.6 metres) of snowfall so far this season.

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The view from Montecito

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:20 , Oliver O'Connell

Crews worked to reopen major highways that were closed by rockslides, swamped by flooding or smothered with mud while more than 10,000 people who were ordered out of seaside towns on the central coast were allowed to return home.

That included Montecito, a wealthy Santa Barbara County community that is home to Prince Harry and other celebrities where 23 people died and more than 100 homes were destroyed in a mudslide five years ago.

This week’s storm brought back harrowing memories for Montecito resident Susanne Tobey, who was rescued when the 2018 mudslide roared through her community.

Like five years ago, when the community was asked to evacuate on Monday, the only highway out was closed, she said. “It was terrifying,” she said of the latest storm. “I don’t think I slept the whole night and the rain was ... you just can’t imagine. It’s like just living in a waterfall.” But even with yet another storm on its way, Tobey said she plans to stay put again.

She said the community has made improvements that she hopes will prevent a similar tragedy, including adding steel nets to catch falling boulders, and debris basins to catch the deluge before it overtakes the hillsides that plunge into the Pacific Ocean.

“You have to be brave to live in California,” she said, adding: “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

AP

Highway closed indefinitely as sinkhole opens

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:02 , Oliver O'Connell

A highway in San Mateo County has been shut indefinitely in both directions because of a sinkhole.

Highway 92 was closed from Upper Skyline Boulevard to Pilarcitos Creek Croad at 3.30am, NBC Bay Area reports.

The roadway was closed on Wednesday for hours because of potentially hazardous conditions, specifically the possibility of a sinkhole forming in the westbound lane. The eastbound lane was reopened for a while, but now drivers have been asked to use alternate routes.

Highway 92 links the county’s Bayside and Coastside regions.

Cost of damage likely to exceed $1bn

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:50 , Oliver O'Connell

More than half of California’s 58 counties were declared disaster areas and repairing the damage may cost more than $1bn, Brian Ferguson, spokesperson for the state Office of Emergency Services told the Associated Press.

His estimate was mirrored by that of a climate expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The total is a reflection of “physical damage to homes, businesses, and municipal properties,” said Adam Smith, an applied climatologist and disaster expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Smith is the lead researcher for NOAA’s “US Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters” report, which catalogs 18 such disasters from 2022. He has reason to believe that the atmospheric river-producing storms in California may join this year’s list.

“Clearly, when everything is said and done after weeks of atmospheric rivers,” Smith said, he “would not be surprised if this was the first billion-dollar event of 2023.”

Other major costs could include lost productivity for individuals and businesses due to evacuation, agricultural damage from flooding and damage to boats and piers along the coast, Smith said.

An often-overlooked cost associated with disasters is damage to public infrastructure, he noted. Damage to roads, bridges, levees and electrical systems would be totted up by NOAA but disregarded by the public as they assess their personal losses, he said.

Death toll still likely to rise

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:20 , Oliver O'Connell

At least 18 people have died in the storms battering the state. The figure is likely to rise, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday during a visit to the scenic town of Capitola, just up the Santa Cruz coast from Rio Del Mar, which was hard hit by flooding creek waters. Raging surf destroyed an iconic pier.

A 43-year-old woman was found dead on Wednesday in her submerged car a day after calling 911 to say the vehicle was stuck in floodwaters north of San Francisco, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. When the search resumed at sunrise, divers discovered the car under about 10 feet (3 meters) of water off a rural road near Forestville, the department said.

AP

Storms eight and nine on the way

Thursday 12 January 2023 15:50 , Oliver O'Connell

The plume of moisture lurking off the northern coast of California stretched all the way over the Pacific to Hawaii, making the atmospheric river “a true Pineapple Express,” the National Weather Service said.

Michael Anderson, climatologist with the Department of Water Resources, said California has been hit by seven storms since the end of December and two more slightly weaker ones were expected before the state gets a reprieve by the end of next week.

“The challenge is they’re storms eight and nine in the sequence and the cumulative effect is likely to cause impacts larger than the storms themselves might cause,” Anderson said.

AP

Cleaning up, while preparing for next onslaught

Thursday 12 January 2023 15:20 , Oliver O'Connell

Laurie Morse shoveled wet sand into bags in the pouring rain Wednesday, preparing to stack them along her garage in a last-ditch effort to keep out a rising creek on California’s central coast, as the storm-ravaged state braced for another round of lashing rains and damaging winds.

Morse’s roof was leaking, and along with her neighbors near Santa Cruz, she’s spent every day of 2023 trying to figure out how to keep her house dry after an unrelenting onslaught of violent weather caused widespread damage over the past two weeks. Cars were submerged, trees uprooted and roofs blown off homes.

 (AP)
(AP)

While the rain eased in many areas, thunderstorms led yet another atmospheric river into the northern half of the state and forecasters said the latest system would be followed by more storms this weekend and next week. From the San Francisco Bay Area down to Los Angeles, Californians had little time to rest between assessing damage from the last storm and preparing for the next.

Earlier this week, Morse and her fellow residents of tiny Rio Del Mar were ordered to evacuate as hillsides collapsed and massive logs and stumps tumbled down the bloated Aptos Creek from the Santa Cruz mountains into Monterey Bay.

Now they were scrambling to clean up while simultaneously stacking sandbags and hoping for the best as the rain got heavier.

“It’s one step forward and two steps back right now,” said Morse, 59, a disabled Army veteran. “There’s so much damage already.”

AP

Gavin Newsom hints at link between floods and the climate crisis

Thursday 12 January 2023 14:50 , Oliver O'Connell

During a visit to badly-impacted Santa Cruz county on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom hinted at a link between California’s extreme weather and the climate crisis.

“The dries are getting a lot drier the last three years, and the wets are getting a lot wetter. This weather whiplash — is that the new reality?” he said, according to NBC News.

California has been in a state of “megadrought” for the past two decades, intensified by the impacts of global heating, according to UCLA research last year.

The study also found that it could take several years of high precipitation to overcome the mega-drought.

“It’s extremely unlikely that this drought can be ended in one wet year,” UCLA geographer Park Williams said at the time.

NWS confirms tornado struck early Tuesday in northern San Joaquin Valley

Thursday 12 January 2023 14:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The National Weather Service in Sacramento confirmed on Wednesday that destruction in Calaveras County early on Tuesday morning was caused by a small tornado.

An EF1 tornado occurred at around 4.10am local time, touching down near a small reservoir. Though classified as “weak” still produced 90mph winds and caused “extensive tree damage to white oak and pines trees”, according to a press release from NWS.

The tornado is just one small part of the severe weather that has lashed California for much of this month.

On the same morning as the tornado struck, severe thunderstorms swept through the San Joaquin Valley with winds strong enough to pick up a large horse barn near Oakdale in Stanislaus County and drag it over a five-foot fence. Neighbouring properties had minor roof damage and wind speeds are thought to have peaked at 75mph.

The NWS says that a warning was sent out to residents with a 17-minute lead time advising that straight-line winds and tornadoes were possible from the severe thunderstorms in the area.

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The search for missing 5-year-old Kyle Doan continues

Thursday 12 January 2023 14:00 , Rachel Sharp

The search for a five-year-old boy is now entering its third day, after he was swept away by raging floodwaters that continue to batter the state of California.

Kyle Doan was last seen on Monday morning when he and his mother became stranded in their vehicle near San Miguel.

Authorities say that Cal Fire responded to a 911 call to help a vehicle that had become stuck in the San Marcos Creek creekbed.

Graeme Massie and Rachel Sharp report.

Search continues for Kyle Doan, 5, who was swept away by California floodwaters

WATCH: Terrifying moment mother and daughter rescued from sinkhole

Thursday 12 January 2023 13:40 , Rachel Sharp

Terrifying footage has captured the moment a mother and daughter had to be rescued from a sinkhole in Chatsworth, Los Angeles.

Intense flooding caused a sinkhole to open up on Monday night, swallowing two cars.

A mother and daughter were pulled to safety from an SUV.

Watch below:

California suffers 955 mudslides and flash floods in two weeks

Thursday 12 January 2023 13:20 , Rachel Sharp

Parts of California have received over half their annual rainfall in the past two weeks as the state continues to be bombarded by heavy downpours, howling winds, and snow.

A relentless parade of atmospheric rivers has drenched chunks of the state from the ritzy coastal enclaves on the fringes of Los Angeles to northern wine country and mountain passes.

A staggering 955 flood, flash flood, or mudslides have been reported to local offices of the National Weather Service, the agency reported on Wednesday.

Louise Boyle has more:

California suffers 955 mudslides and flash floods in two weeks - as deluge continues

Woman’s body found in submerged car in Sonoma County

Thursday 12 January 2023 13:00 , Rachel Sharp

At least 18 people have now died in incidents linked to the extreme weather with the body of a 43-year-old woman discovered in a submerged vehicle in Sonoma County.

The victim Daphne Fontino had made a final desperate 911 call as her car became trapped in the floodwaters one day earlier.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said that search and rescue teams made the grim discovery along the 6000 block of Trenton-Healdsburg Road, Forestville, on Wednesday morning.

“Our deepest condolences to her family and friends,” the department said in a statement.

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WATCH: Major sinkhole opens up after violent storm in Orcutt, California

Thursday 12 January 2023 12:40 , Rachel Sharp

As an intense series of storms continues to hammer California, a major sinkhole opened up in Orcutt, California.

Watch the footage below:

Flooding arrives in the California desert

Thursday 12 January 2023 12:20 , Rachel Sharp

California’s famous desert resort city Palm Springs was hit by heavy winter storm flash flooding that saw at least one trapped motorist rescued from their vehicle.

The Palm Springs Fire Department carried out the swift water rescue after flooding in a desert wash in the city. A wash is an area in the desert where water once flowed or that floods during heavy rain or flash flooding.

The rescue began at around 5.45pm on Tuesday evening and took around an hour, according to officials.

Graeme Massie reports.

Palm Springs residents rescued as California’s desert city is hit by flash floods

In pictures: Family releases pictures of Kyle Doan as search continues

Thursday 12 January 2023 12:00 , Rachel Sharp

The 5-year-old was swept away by floodwaters near San Miguel, California (Doan Family)
The 5-year-old was swept away by floodwaters near San Miguel, California (Doan Family)
Search teams continue to look for the boy on day 4 (Doan Family)
Search teams continue to look for the boy on day 4 (Doan Family)
Kyle Doan was last seen on Monday morning when he and his mother became stranded in their vehicle (Doan Family)
Kyle Doan was last seen on Monday morning when he and his mother became stranded in their vehicle (Doan Family)

At least 18 people killed in the storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 11:40 , Rachel Sharp

At least 18 people have now died in incidents linked to the extreme weather in California, according to authorities.

Among the victims is a 43-year-old woman who was discovered in a submerged vehicle in Sonoma County on Wednesday.

In total, more lives have now been lost in the storms than in the past two years of wildfires in California.

New storm map shows more heavy rainfall for California

Thursday 12 January 2023 11:20 , Rachel Sharp

A new storm map has revealed how heavy rainfall is poised to bring more flooding to hard-hit California, as the death toll continues to climb.

The intense rainfall rates come in parts of northwestern and central California which have already been hammered by between 10 and 20 inches of rainfall in the last two weeks, according to the National Weather Service in an update on Wednesday evening ET.

“As anticipated, a broad fetch of Pacific moisture/IVT resulted in areas of moderate to locally heavy rainfall across the discussion area, with rain rates ramping up locally to around 0.5 inch/hr especially after around 18Z or so. This axis of lift/moisture will continue to persist across the area for at least another 4-5 hours or so, with 1-1.2 inch,” it reads.

“PW values and onshore mid-level providing lift/ascent for continued convective development. These rainfall rates are also continuing atop areas that have received 10-20+ inches of rainfall in the past 2-2.5 weeks along with widespread flood/flash flood impacts (some of which are continuing).

“The locally heavier rainfall rates could exacerbate ongoing impacts especially in/near sensitive or already flooded areas. Models (CAMs particularly) indicate that the ongoing regime should continue to produce locally heavy rainfall (and 1-2 inch totals) through 03Z or so. Thereafter, backing mid-level flow (in tandem with a deepening cyclone over northeastern Pacific Waters) will result in a northward shift of the heaviest of rainfall rates into far northwestern California and perhaps southern Oregon.”

NWS map shows more heavy rainfall for California (NWS)
NWS map shows more heavy rainfall for California (NWS)

What’s next for the California storms?

Thursday 12 January 2023 11:00 , Josh Marcus

More details from the National Weather Service below:

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California flooding may bring deluge of snakes

Thursday 12 January 2023 10:30 , Stuti Mishra

As large parts of California are battered by incessant rainfall due to the 50-year storm, experts are warning that the aftermath of the flooding may also bring a plethora of troubles for the golden state, including a spike in snake sightings.

The extreme weather is also impacting the diverse wildlife of the state with fears rising that floodwaters could increase the sightings of dangerous snakes in some areas.

Read more:

Parents discuss tragedy of losing son, 5, as more California storms approach – live

ICYMI: California weather tracker: Where are extreme storms headed?

Thursday 12 January 2023 10:00 , Josh Marcus

A parade of extreme storms is swamping California with heavy rain causing dangerous conditions including flash flooding and mudslides across the state.

What’s going to happen next?

Louise Boyle has the details.

California weather tracker: Where are extreme storms headed?

California's flooding in pictures

Thursday 12 January 2023 09:30 , Stuti Mishra

Residents stack sandbags around a home and along a neighborhood street in preparations for flooding from the next wave of storms (EPA)
Residents stack sandbags around a home and along a neighborhood street in preparations for flooding from the next wave of storms (EPA)
Streets are flooded during a storm in Rio Del Mar, California (EPA)
Streets are flooded during a storm in Rio Del Mar, California (EPA)
Residents  help to clear water out of a flooded back yard on Paso Honda (EPA)
Residents help to clear water out of a flooded back yard on Paso Honda (EPA)
Local resident Fidel Osorio rescues a dog from a flooded home in Merced, California (AFP via Getty Images)
Local resident Fidel Osorio rescues a dog from a flooded home in Merced, California (AFP via Getty Images)

EXPLAINER: Storms put California levees to the test

Thursday 12 January 2023 09:00 , Josh Marcus

With multiple powerful storms continuing to bear down on California, state officials have warned that rural areas are the most at risk of flooding because the levees that protect them aren’t built to the same standards as others that shield more populated cities.

These rural levees — many of which are owned and maintained by private land owners — mostly protect farmland from flooding and pose minimal risk to most homes. But failures can cause major thoroughfares to flood, as happened on New Year’s Eve when a major highway in Sacramento County flooded and one person was killed.

Adam Beam reports.

EXPLAINER: Storms put California levees to the test

Celebs miss Golden Globes because of heavy flooding

Thursday 12 January 2023 07:59 , Josh Marcus

Kevin Costner was blocked from accepting his Golden Globes win as he hunkered down at home while storms ravaging California hammered the celebrity enclave of Santa Barbara.

The Yellowstone star announced he and his wife Christine Baumgarter would not be able to attend in a Twitter video before the ceremony kicked off on Tuesday night.

“Hi everyone. Look, I’m so sorry for everyone who might have been tuning in to watch the Golden Globes — Chris and I aren’t going to be there,” he said.

“Yesterday we had to pull the kids out of school in Santa Barbara. This is the second time in five years that the freeway has flooded out, we found ourselves on the wrong side of the town and we couldn’t get back last night.”

Tom Murray and Megan Sheets have the details.

Kevin Costner misses Golden Globes as storm hammers celebrity enclave Santa Barbara

California National Guard joins search for 5-year-old

Thursday 12 January 2023 07:30 , Stuti Mishra

The California National Guard has joined the search for Kyle Doan, the 5-year-old who was swept away by flood waters in San Luis Obispo County on Monday.

Over 100 members of the national guard have already been sent to the area to assist the county Sheriff’s Department, according to the official Twitter account of the service.

"Soldiers with the 270th Military Police Company are en route to aid San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department with their search of missing 5-year-old Kyle Doan. Over 100 Cal Guard members are already on the scene aiding the search efforts," the Guard wrote on Twitter.

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Sacramento's iconic tree canopy turns destructive in storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 07:00 , Josh Marcus

On a good day, the sun shines in California’s capital city — and elms, pines, oaks and hundreds of other tree varieties fill Sacramento‘s parks and line streets, fortifying the city’s reputation as the “City of Trees.” But on a bad one, violent winds knock some of the trees down, causing damage to cars, homes and power lines.

That’s what happened in recent weeks as the defining feature that’s normally seen an asset to the city has given way to destruction and disruption as multiple “ atmospheric rivers “ ripped through Northern California, bringing intense winds and rain.

Sophie Austin reports.

Sacramento's iconic tree canopy turns destructive in storms

Surfers out and about in floodwaters

Thursday 12 January 2023 06:30 , Stuti Mishra

Some people were spotted surfing in the floodwaters at Fort Funston in San Francisco as atmospheric river storms hit California.

Christian Ibarra surfs in a flood at Fort Funston in San Francisco (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Christian Ibarra surfs in a flood at Fort Funston in San Francisco (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Jose Martin surfs in a flood at Fort Funston in San Francisco (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Jose Martin surfs in a flood at Fort Funston in San Francisco (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Jose Martin surfs in a flood at Fort Funston in San Francisco (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Jose Martin surfs in a flood at Fort Funston in San Francisco (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Storm struck California scrambles to clean up ahead of rain

Thursday 12 January 2023 06:00 , Josh Marcus

Storm-ravaged California scrambled to clean up and repair widespread damage on Wednesday as the lashing rain eased in many areas, although the north could see thundershowers Wednesday and another powerful weather front was expected to hit the state Friday.

At least 17 people have died in the storms battering the state. The figure is likely to rise, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday during a visit to the scenic town of Capitola on the Santa Cruz coast that was hard hit by high surf and flooding creek waters last week.

Brian Melley and Christopher Weber report.

Storm struck California scrambles to clean up ahead of rain

Video: Trapped motorist rescued from floodwater in California desert city of Palm Springs

Thursday 12 January 2023 05:30 , Stuti Mishra

Storms come for the royals

Thursday 12 January 2023 05:00 , Josh Marcus

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s hometown of Montecito is under an evacuation order due to heavy rain after days of severe storms battered California.

The Montecito Fire Department urged residents to immediately leave their homes on Monday after heavy rain deluged the area from the early hours, with worse to come this afternoon and evening. The fire department later tweeted that their website had crashed due to heavy traffic.

The National Weather Service reported that at least eight inches of rain fell over 12 hours, with several more inches predicted as the storm system swept through the area of wooded hillsides and secluded large homes.

Santa Barbara emergency officials subsequently issued a shelter in place warning for those not already evacuated, advising them to go to innermost room or high ground.

Louise Boyle reports.

Harry and Meghan’s hometown of Montecito evacuated

When will the rain end in California?

Thursday 12 January 2023 04:30 , Stuti Mishra

California is expected to receive more rainfall on Saturday with downpours continuing to next week, according to forecasters, as the lashing rain eased in many areas, although thunderstorms led a new atmospheric river into the northern half of the state.

The plume of moisture lurking off the coast stretched all the way over the Pacific to Hawaii, making it "a true Pineapple Express," the National Weather Service said.

The latest rains were expected to impact only Northern California, giving the south a break until more wet weather arrives by the weekend.

People can expect a little respite from rain after the first half of the next week, forecasters say.

The silent victims of California’s storms: the homeless

Thursday 12 January 2023 04:00 , Josh Marcus

Louise Boyle reports on how one California city planned for a bruising round of storms to impact its unhoused community.

San Jose police issue grim warning as California braces for storm

Residents of remote California canyon airlifted to safety after getting stranded by storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 03:00 , Josh Marcus

Residents of a remote California canyon cut off by the state’s devastating winter storms had to be airlifted to safety in a helicopter.

Officials say that around six residents of remote Matilija Canyon, about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles, had become trapped there when roads became impassable.

Graeme Massie reports.

Remote California canyon residents airlifted to safety after being stranded by storms

Parents describe horror of losing missing 5-year-old child Kyle Doan in California floods: ‘Hug your kids extra hard’

Thursday 12 January 2023 02:01 , Josh Marcus

Authorities are still searching for Kyle Doan, a five-year-old who was swept from his mother’s arms on Monday amid rising flood waters in California near the two of Paso Robles.

The boy went missing on Monday, when his mother, Lindsy Doan, was driving the kindergartener to Lillian Larsen Elementary School, where Ms Doan also works as a special education teacher.

Her route took her through the intersection of San Marcos Road and Wellsona Road, near a creek swollen with flood waters, the Los Angeles Times reports. The family said the intersection wasn’t properly marked for nearby hazards, and fast-moving waters swept the Doans’ car into a nearby tree.

Brain Doan, Lindsey’s husband, told the paper his wife unbuckled their son and the pair climbed out of the sinking car.

“He was calm. He was trying to say, ‘Stay calm, Mom,” he said. “She was doing her best.”

More details in our full story.

The outlook: more heavy storms for California throughout the week

Thursday 12 January 2023 02:00 , Josh Marcus

Californians won’t be getting a break from the heavy weather this week.

According to the National Weather Service, “heavy rain” is expected along the Northern California coast through Thursday, with the storms shifting eastward the following day.

Meanwhile, “heavy mountain snow” will remain a risk at high elevations on Friday and Saturday.

Thanks to “saturated conditions,” flooding will continue into next week.

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Your regular reminder: ‘Don’t be in a redwood forest during a storm'

Thursday 12 January 2023 01:40 , Josh Marcus

They’re huge, fire-resistant, and can live for thousands of years, but even California’s redwoods can’t survive everything.

As storms and heavy rains pummel the state, some of California’s iconic redwoods have fallen during the process.

In case you were considering a rainy ramble through the woods to take in the sights, don’t, warns the National Parks Service.

They’ve been posting consistent updates from Redwood State and National Park, showing large-scale tree collapses around the park.

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Family recounts harrowing flood waters that swept 5-year-old son out of mother’s hands

Thursday 12 January 2023 01:20 , Josh Marcus

Officials are still searching for Kyle Doan, a 5-year-old who was swept out of his mother’s hands in Paso Robles, amid heavy rains.

On Monday, Doan and his mother were driving when flood waters dragged their SUV off the road and into a tree.

The child’s mother was able to exit the vehicle with Kyle in her arms, but he was soon carried away in rushing water.

“My wife feels awful because she would have rather they saved him, but she was the closest one they could get to,” his father, Brian Doan, told the New York Times. “They did what they could.”

“My wife told me that my son said, ‘Don’t worry, Mommy,’” Mr Doan added.

Here’s our report on the search for Kyle Doan.

Search continues for Kyle Doan, 5, who was swept away by California floodwaters

California suffers 955 mudslides and flash floods in two weeks as relentless storms continue

Thursday 12 January 2023 01:00 , Josh Marcus

Parts of California have received over half their annual rainfall in the past two weeks as the state continues to be bombarded by heavy downpours, howling winds, and snow.

A relentless parade of atmospheric rivers has drenched chunks of the state from the ritzy coastal enclaves on the fringes of Los Angeles to northern wine country and mountain passes.

A staggering 955 flood, flash flood, or mudslides have been reported to local offices of the National Weather Service, the agency reported on Wednesday.

At least 17 people have died in incidents linked to the extreme weather. A female driver who called 911 saying she had been caught in floodwaters was found dead a day later inside the submerged vehicle, AP reported.

Louise Boyle has the all the details.

California suffers 955 mudslides and flash floods in two weeks - as deluge continues

‘California is proof that the climate crisis is real'

Thursday 12 January 2023 00:45 , Josh Marcus

California governor Gavin Newsom says there’s a major takeaway from the recent round of bruising storms: the climate crisis is here.

“Megadroughts. Wildfires. Historic floods and atmospheric rivers. This whiplash weather is not an anomaly,” the governor wrote on Tuesday on Twitter after a visit to hard-hit Capitola. “California is proof that the climate crisis is real and we have to take it seriously.”

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Of course, recognising the climate crisis and fighting it are two different thing.

Also on Tuesday, Mr Newsrom proposed eliminating $6bln in climate funding from the state’s proposed budget, a means, he argued, to address a projected $22.5bln shortfall.

Environmentalists criticised the proposal.

“We recognize the financial situation, but this is exactly what we’ve been nervous about,” Mike Young, political and organizing director at California Environmental Voters, an advocacy group, told Cal Matters. “We actually need to be investing and defending more of our climate investments and really pushing for that. We can’t get out of our situation if we’re going backwards.”

Putting a price tag on the California storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 00:25 , Josh Marcus

The recent storms pounding California are going to leave behind more than just downed trees and flooded neighbourhoods.

There’s also going to be a massive bill for the clean-up and economic recovery of the state.

The weather has likely caused $30 to $34bln worth of damage across the state, according to AccuWeather Inc, Bloomberg reports.

More stats on California’s massive storms

Thursday 12 January 2023 00:08 , Josh Marcus

An estimated 57,000 people in California remain without power, and more than half of the state’s 58 counties have been declared disaster areas, according to Newsweek.

Within specific towns, the damage has been shocking.

In Merced County, more than 100 cars were ruined due to flooding. the magazine reports.

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Tornado with 90 mph winds hits California

Wednesday 11 January 2023 23:45 , Josh Marcus

Here’s something you don’t see every day: tornadoes in California.

On Tuesday, a twister blowing 90 mph winds touched down in Calaveras County, KCRA reports, knocking down trees and buildings in the state’s San Joaquin Valley region.

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The California storms, by the numbers

Wednesday 11 January 2023 23:25 , Josh Marcus

How bad is the damage on the ground in California after weeks of storms?

According to the National Weather Service, a total of 955 flood, flash flood, or debris flow reports were logged since 26 December.

The damage was concentrated around the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley, Central Coast, and Sierras regions, while the drier south and forested far north were spared the worst.

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Woman found dead in submerged car in Sonoma

Wednesday 11 January 2023 23:05 , Josh Marcus

The death toll from the California storms keeps inscreasing.

A woman was found dead inside a submerged car on Wednesday in Forestville, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office, ABC News reports.

Officials said Daphne Fontino, 43, was buried beneath 8 to 10 feet of water approximately 100 feet from the road.

Video shows massive tree falling after storm soaks soil

Wednesday 11 January 2023 22:45 , Josh Marcus

Following days of heavy rains, the soil in California’s Santa Cruz mountains is thoroughly soaked through.

A lineman for PG&E captured striking video on Wednesday of a massive tree falling across Highway 9 in the aftermath.

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A reminder: the drought isn’t over yet

Wednesday 11 January 2023 22:25 , Josh Marcus

Despite the apocalyptic rains and floods taking place across California, the state’s historic drought isn’t over just yet.

“It’s important to remember that these storms haven’t ended the #drought,” the state Department of Water Resources wrote on Wednesday. “Major reservoir storage remains below average, & conditions could turn dry again this winter, offsetting recent #storms. Statewide CA reservoir storage is currently only 82% of average for this time of year.”

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Here’s or report on how the atmospheric river will affect the state’s drought.

Will epic California storms be enough to end state’s drought?

5 million under flood watch as rains set to continue

Wednesday 11 January 2023 22:05 , Josh Marcus

An estimated 5 million Californians remain under flood watch as heavy rains are set to continue through the week, CNN reports.

“The state has been experiencing drought for the last four years, and now we have storm upon storm,” California Lt Gov Eleni Kounalakis said Wednesday.

“We’ve had six storms in the last two weeks. This is the kind of weather you would get in a year and we compressed it just into two weeks.”

Dramatic video captures aftermath of California mudslides

Wednesday 11 January 2023 21:45 , Josh Marcus

Flooding isn’t the only danger from California’s string of recent heavy rain storms.

Many rural, mountainous areas in California have suffered both wildfires and drought in recent years, making them extremely vulnerable to landslides after sudden deluges of rain.

Video from Caltrans shows extensive damage drom mudslides on State Route 33.

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Boy, 4, and two adults rescued by good samaritans after Tesla crashes into California swimming pool

Wednesday 11 January 2023 21:25 , Josh Marcus

Three people, including a four-year-old boy, were dramatically rescued by good samaritans after their Tesla plunged into a swimming pool in California.

The terrifying ordeal unfolded at around 9am on Tuesday along the 700 block of West California Boulevard in Pasadena, according to the Pasadena Fire Department.

Officials said that two adults and the young boy were travelling in the Tesla when the driver hit the accelerator instead of the brake, sending the car crashing through a wall and into the swimming pool of a home.

The driver may have been distracted by the weathers, officials said, according to the New York Times.

Rachel Sharp reports.

Boy, 4, and two adults rescued after Tesla crashes into California swimming pool

IRS cuts Californians a break

Wednesday 11 January 2023 20:45 , Louise Boyle

The Internal Revenue Service announced on Tuesday that California’s storm victims would have an extra month to file their tax returns after catastrophic impacts to large areas of the state.

Those affected now have until May 15, 2023, to file federal, individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.

The IRS is offering relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The change covers both individuals and households that reside, or have a business, in affected counties.

The full list of counties can be found at the IRS website.

Clean-up gets underway after high winds downed trees across state

Wednesday 11 January 2023 20:30 , Louise Boyle

A resident crosses the street in front of a tree blocking H Street near 36th Street in Sacramento (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP)
A resident crosses the street in front of a tree blocking H Street near 36th Street in Sacramento (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP)

Half the annual rainfall - in two weeks

Wednesday 11 January 2023 20:16 , Louise Boyle

Large parts of central California received over half their annual rainfall in the past 16 days, the National Weather Service reported on Wednesday.

California has averaged 8.61 inches of rain and the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area averaged 13.34 inches after a wave of atmospheric rivers deluged the state from 26th December.

The 24-hour period from 4am (Pacific Time) on 9th January to 10th January ranks as the third wettest one-day period since 2005, forecasters added.

Large parts of central California have received over half their annual rainfall in the past 16 days (NOAA)
Large parts of central California have received over half their annual rainfall in the past 16 days (NOAA)

Palm Springs residents rescued as California’s desert city is hit by flash floods

Wednesday 11 January 2023 19:41 , Graeme Massie

The Palm Springs Fire Department carried out the swift water rescue after flooding in a desert wash in the city. A wash is an area in the desert where water once flowed or that floods during heavy rain or flash flooding.

Palm Springs residents rescued as California’s desert city is hit by flash floods

Mammoth Mountain continues to dig out from storm

Wednesday 11 January 2023 19:19 , Graeme Massie

The famed California ski resort in the Sierra Nevada says it got up to 7.5ft of snow in the recent storms, with more expected later this week.

“WHAT.A.STORM. We thought this photo was fitting for the final Dump Alert of this Mammoth mega-storm which dropped 6 to 7.5 FEET of snow in the last few days,” the resort’s Instagram account stated.

Watch: Trapped driver rescued from floodwater in California desert city of Palm Springs

Wednesday 11 January 2023 18:56 , Louise Boyle

Southern California surveys its damage as north braces for more downpours

Wednesday 11 January 2023 18:27 , Louise Boyle

Southern California was taking stock of the damage from heavy rainfall and high winds on Wednesday even as a new atmospheric river made its way onshore.

Today’s downpours were expected to only impact northern areas of the state, giving the south a break - at least until the weekend, the National Weather Service reported.

Abandoned cars are left in a flooded street in Santa Barbara earlier this week (REUTERS)
Abandoned cars are left in a flooded street in Santa Barbara earlier this week (REUTERS)

Fatigue setting in at the National Weather Service

Wednesday 11 January 2023 18:14 , Louise Boyle

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Spike in lightning strikes

Wednesday 11 January 2023 17:59 , Louise Boyle

The parade of atmospheric rivers has caused an abnormal number of lightning strikes in California in recent weeks.

The state typically has one of the lowest annual tallies of lightning strikes in the nation.

National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Baruffaldi told The New York Times that this was because of the lack of humidity in California that means “it’s harder to get the persistent strikes that other parts of the nation see”.

On Tuesday, the storm system parked over the San Francisco Bay area led to five to ten lightning strikes every five minutes, the local CBS channel reported.

Lightning strikes are seen above buildings in San Fransisco, California on 5th January (Lapine via REUTERS)
Lightning strikes are seen above buildings in San Fransisco, California on 5th January (Lapine via REUTERS)

Snow for days

Wednesday 11 January 2023 17:36 , Louise Boyle

Mammoth Mountain ski area was closed on Tuesday because it received too much snowfall, according to reports.

“An incredible 420cm [165 inches] has fallen since Christmas with over 4ft or 120cm in just in the last day alone,” Global News Canada’s Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell tweeted. He shared an image of a ski-lift at the resort under a heavy white blanket of fresh powder.

The resort’s official site reported that the mountain will have a staggered reopening on Wednesday. “Expect delays in all lift openings due to extensive avalanche mitigation work,” an alert stated.

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Newsom links ‘weather whiplash’ to climate crisis

Wednesday 11 January 2023 17:12 , Louise Boyle

Governor Gavin Newsom hinted at a link between California’s extreme weather and the climate crisis during a visit to Santa Cruz county on Tuesday.

The area has been one of the most heavily impacted from the atmospheric river deluging the state.

“The dries are getting a lot drier the last three years, and the wets are getting a lot wetter. This weather whiplash — is that the new reality?” he said, according to NBC News.

California has been in a state of “megadrought” for the past two decades, intensified by the impacts of global heating. The climate crisis is responsible for about 42 per cent of the soil moisture deficit since 2000, according to a UCLA research paper last year. It also noted that it could take several years of high precipitation to overcome the mega-drought.

“It’s extremely unlikely that this drought can be ended in one wet year,” UCLA geographer Park Williams said last year.

Atmospheric rivers can also be intensified by the climate crisis, scientists have warned. As the atmosphere heats up, it becomes capable of holding more water and leads to more intense deluges.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens during a news conference about storm damage on  Jan. 10  in Capitola (AP)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens during a news conference about storm damage on Jan. 10 in Capitola (AP)

Tens of thousands remain without power

Wednesday 11 January 2023 16:47 , Louise Boyle

Tens of thousands of customers remain without power across California as severe storms continued to batter the state.

Some 57,835 homes and businesses were in blackout on Wednesday morning, according to utility tracker poweroutage.us

The most outages are located in Mendocino county, north of San Francisco, along with Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties which includes the city of San Jose and Silicon Valley.

Power outages across California on Wednesday, January 11 (poweroutage.us)
Power outages across California on Wednesday, January 11 (poweroutage.us)

California transport officials warns people against taking to the roads

Wednesday 11 January 2023 16:32 , Louise Boyle

California transport officials were warning people against taking to the roads with more severe weather on the way.

Districts were “strongly advising” the public to avoid travel this week if possible, reported the California Department of Transportation, known as “Caltrans”.

“These storm systems have affected the majority of CA in some shape or form,” the department tweeted, and advised drivers to consult state travel alerts before heading out.

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Will epic California storms be enough to end state’s drought?

Wednesday 11 January 2023 16:17 , Louise Boyle

The wave of storms which have hit California since late December has meant the state has received 400-600 per cent of normal rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.

By early January, state scientists at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains were also recording snow 177 per cent higher than average.

But will the atmospheric river end California’s historic drought, the worst in state history?

Read more from Josh Marcus’s report at the link below.

Will epic California storms be enough to end state’s drought?

US suffered 18 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2022

Wednesday 11 January 2023 15:58 , Louise Boyle

The United States experienced 18 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2022 – the latest battering in consecutive years of wall-to-wall catastrophes.

The absymal tally was noted in a new report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday, and put 2022 in joint third place with 2011 and 2017 for the greatest number of disasters. Only 2021, with 20 billion-dollar disasters, and 2020, with 22 disasters, topped it.

This year’s disasters, including last month’s massive bomb cyclone, Hurricane Ian and two tornado outbreaks, resulted in the deaths of at least 474 people.

US suffered 18 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2022

Fatalities from storm likely to increase, says California governor

Wednesday 11 January 2023 15:37 , Louise Boyle

California Governor Gavin Newsom said that the number of fatalities from the storms is likely to increase.

At least 17 people have died after wave after wave of extreme rainfall deluged the state.

A pickup truck driver and a motorcyclist were killed early on Tuesday in the San Joaquin Valley when a tree that had been struck by lightning fell on them, the Associated Press reported. Other deaths were caused by car crashes and lightning strikes.

Search enters third day for five-year-old Kyle Doan who was swept away by California floodwaters

Wednesday 11 January 2023 15:30 , Rachel Sharp

The search for a five-year-old boy is now entering its third day, after he was swept away by raging floodwaters that continue to batter the state of California.

Kyle Doan was last seen on Monday morning when he and his mother became stranded in their vehicle near San Miguel.

Read more here:

Extreme weather leading to mudslides and debris flows

Wednesday 11 January 2023 15:17 , Louise Boyle

Major highways across California were closed after becoming impassable due to flash floods, mudslides and debris flows.

On Wednesday, crews were working to reopen routes as more than 10,000 people who had been evacuated from coastal areas due to the dangerous conditions were allowed to return home.

Owner Maurice Henao looks at the small boulder resting in his vehichle parked along the Pacific Coastal Highway in Malibu, California on January 10 (REUTERS)
Owner Maurice Henao looks at the small boulder resting in his vehichle parked along the Pacific Coastal Highway in Malibu, California on January 10 (REUTERS)

California surfers making the most of huge waves generated by ‘50-year storm’

Wednesday 11 January 2023 15:00 , Rachel Sharp

Monster waves and torrential rains have flooded California causing significant damage to towns across the state, but many surfers have made the most of the adverse situation.

A video captured at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge last week, that is now viral, showed a group of surfers braving the wind and riding the high waves caused by a bomb cyclone, dubbed a “50-year storm” by surfing blog The Inertia.

Several visitors can also be spotted standing near the water filming and cheering them on.

Read the full story here:

California surfers making the most of huge waves generated by ‘50-year storm’

Snapshot of Wednesday’s weather

Wednesday 11 January 2023 14:45 , Louise Boyle

The atmospheric river deluging California will re-focus mainly across northern parts of the state on Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported.

There will be more heavy rain and mountain snow on land already water-logged by days of precipitation.

Further east, a few strong to severe storms will be possible in the mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys.

Weather systems impacting the US over the next 24 hours (NOAA/NWS)
Weather systems impacting the US over the next 24 hours (NOAA/NWS)

Katie Porter slammed for announcing senate bid amid storms

Wednesday 11 January 2023 14:30 , Rachel Sharp

Rep Katie Porter has been slammed for announcing her bid for senator in the middle of California’s deadly storms.

The Democrat announced this week that she will join the race for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat, saying “especially in times like these, California needs a warrior in the Senate”.

A source close to Republican Rep Adam Schiff – who has also voiced interest in joining the race – slammed the timing of her announcement.

“It’s f***ing crazy that she would announce in the middle of a natural disaster,” the source told the Los Angeles Times.

Rep Ro Khanna, a Democrat who is also mulling joining the Senate race, also made a thinly-veiled dig at Ms Porter: “Right now, California is facing severe storms and floods, and my district is facing historic weather conditions. My focus is on that. In the next few months, I will make a decision.”

Kevin Costner forced to miss Golden Globes due to floods

Wednesday 11 January 2023 14:00 , Rachel Sharp

Kevin Costner was forced to miss the Golden Globes on Tuesday where he won best actor in a drama TV series, because of the intense flooding in California.

The Hollywood star was set to attend the star-studded Beverly Hills bash to collect the award for the TV series Yellowstone.

In an Instagram post, he said that he and his wife Christine were unable to get to the awards show because of flooding near their home in Santa Barbara.

“I’m so sorry for everyone who might have been tuning in to watch the Golden Globes. Chris and I aren’t going to be able to be there,” he said.

“Yesterday we had to pull the kids out of school in Santa Barbara. This is the second time in five years that the town freeways flooded out, and we found ourselves on the wrong side of town, and we couldn’t get back last night.

“We couldn’t even get back to the house this morning in time with the freeways closed. (There’s) nobody sadder than us that we can’t be there at the Golden Globes.”

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Search still under way for five-year-old Kyle Doan

Wednesday 11 January 2023 13:30 , Rachel Sharp

Emergency services continue to search for missing five-year-old Kyle Doan, who was swept away by raging floodwaters near San Miguel on Monday, when his mother’s car got stuck in a creek.

The search had been called off after five hours due to the treacherous conditions which made it unsafe for first responders to continue their efforts.

It resumed on Tuesday morning during a break in the intense storms.

“The public is strongly cautioned not to conduct self-initiated searches and put themselves in harms way and become a victim requiring resources that would otherwise be used for searching,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

As of Wednesday morning, the boy is yet to be located.

“The search remains our top priority while weather conditions permit. We will update the public with any info regarding this search,” the sheriff’s office said.

Kyle Doan was swept away by raging floodwaters near San Miguel on Monday (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office)
Kyle Doan was swept away by raging floodwaters near San Miguel on Monday (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office)

How to check if a road near you is unsafe in California

Wednesday 11 January 2023 13:00 , Rachel Sharp

If you can stay home right now, you probably should, given the historic rains and flooding taking place across California.

If you need to go out, it’s always a good idea to check road conditions near you.

Caltrans, the state transit agency, has a great map that’s updated live with lane closures, California Highway Patrol incidents, and other hazard incidents.

You can look at the Caltrans QuickMap here.

Caution: Big rock!

Wednesday 11 January 2023 12:30 , Rachel Sharp

Malibu Public Safety warned drivers on Monday to beware of potentially dangerous obstructions on roads caused by landslides and rockfalls triggered by the excessive rainfall.

The agency posted photos of a large boulder that had crashed down onto Malibu Canyon Road blocking most of the roadway.

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Dramatic images of the California storms

Wednesday 11 January 2023 12:00 , Rachel Sharp

With 90 per cent of the state under flood watch, here are some of the most striking photos and videos of the carnage in the Golden State.

Sinkholes, fallen trees, floods: Dramatic images capture California storm devastation

Inches of water pooled in LA streets on Monday

Wednesday 11 January 2023 11:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Streets flooded in several parts of Los Angeles on Monday night, with water threatening a homeless encampment at one intersection in Hollywood.

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Will epic California storms be enough to end state’s drought?

Thursday 12 January 2023 01:54 , Josh Marcus

An “atmospheric river” is drenching California with storms, bringing exceptionally high levels of precipitation across the golden state.

Thanks to a series of storms beginning in late December, areas of California have received 400 to 600 per cent of their normal rain levels, according to the National Weather Service. By early January, state scientists at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains were recording snows that were 177 per cent higher than average.

The intense weather has often proved catastrophic on the ground, causing flooding, downed trees, and mudslides that have killed at least 16 people and left roughly 224,000 people in the state without power, the Washington Post reports.

Despite all the destruction it has caused, will the atmospheric river end California’s historic drought, the worst in state history? Not quite, according to scientists.

Will epic California storms be enough to end state’s drought?

Where are California’s extreme storms headed?

Wednesday 11 January 2023 10:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The next severe front will impact northern California and the Pacific Northwest from Wednesday.

It comes after days of heavy rain which left land waterlogged, adding to the risk of mudslides, particularly in the burn scars of wildfires where land is already destabilized. The heavy rain has also led to rapid water rises in rivers and streams across California and portions of far western Nevada.

Louise Boyle reports.

California weather tracker: Where are extreme storms headed?

Sinkholes, fallen trees and demolished piers: California storms devastation captured in dramatic images

Thursday 12 January 2023 01:52 , Josh Marcus

The storms that have been pounding California since New Year’s show no sign of letting up.

“Just as the last episode of heavy precipitation across California is beginning to wind down early this morning, another energetic low pressure system is quickly gathering strength off the West Coast and heading once again toward California,” the National Weather Service announced on Tuesday. “In addition to being highly moisture-laden, this rapidly intensifying system is also packing some thunderstorms.”

At least 17 people have been killed in the extreme weather since late December, according to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

More details in our full story.

Sinkholes, fallen trees, floods: Dramatic images capture California storm devastation

What is an atmospheric river?

Wednesday 11 January 2023 09:15 , Stuti Mishra

The system swamping California is known as an “atmospheric river” - or a “river in the sky” - a band of water vapor that forms over the ocean and can be hundreds of miles wide.

Louise Boyle explains how the phenomenon operates and what it means for California.

What is an atmospheric river?

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent's website