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Los Angeles area experiences catastrophic floods as deadly atmospheric river slams California

A man digging in dirt in a collage image.
A man digging in dirt in a collage image.

A dire situation continues to unfold in California as a deadly atmospheric river storm slams the state with torrential rain, destructive wind gusts and catastrophic flash flooding.

Southern California, including downtown Los Angeles, was in the bull’s-eye where forecasters believe the risk of flooding is highest. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) placed about 14 million people in the area under a rare “high risk” of flash flooding on Monday.

The WPC noted the ongoing situation will continue to produce locally catastrophic flash and urban flooding in the Los Angeles area through Tuesday.

Los Angeles picked up 4.10 inches of rain on Sunday, which far exceeded the daily rainfall record for that date set in 1927, which was 2.55 inches. It’s also more rain than the city averages for February, which is 3.64 inches.

Historic amounts of rain continue to fall on the Golden State, far exceeding their monthly averages.

3 killed by falling trees

At least three people have been killed by the atmospheric river storm, according to officials.

Police in the Northern California city of Yuba City, some 40 miles north of Sacramento, said they responded to a report that a tree had fallen on a man on Tres Picos Drive on Sunday.

A view of vehicles were buried in mudslides at Beverly Crest neighborhood, as atmospheric river storms hit Los Angeles, California. Anadolu via Getty Images
A view of vehicles were buried in mudslides at Beverly Crest neighborhood, as atmospheric river storms hit Los Angeles, California. Anadolu via Getty Images

According to police, it appeared as though the unidentified victim may have been using a ladder to try and clear the tree away from his home when it fell on top of him.

When officers arrived, they said they found the man under the large redwood tree and tried to revive him, but those attempts were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead.

A second person was also killed when a tree fell onto their home in Boulder Creek.

Officials say that two people were inside when a tree fell onto the Boulder Creek home. One was able to make it out, but a 45-year-old man was trapped inside and killed.

A mudslide leads to a home where it smashed through its garage. AFP via Getty Images
A mudslide leads to a home where it smashed through its garage. AFP via Getty Images

And in Sacramento County, a tree fell on a 41-year-old man on Sunday during the storm. He was transported to the nearby hospital, where he died due to his injuries.

Landslides, debris flows reported in Los Angeles area

FOX Weather Correspondent Max Gorden was in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles early Monday morning when fast-moving water was seen rushing down the street due to the torrential rainfall in the region.

“You can see some of the debris right there,” he said Monday morning on FOX Weather. “Large rocks, pieces of, what looks like trash and maybe pieces of some homes, we’re not exactly sure. But you can see all of this water flowing down the hill.”

A man clears debris from a mudslide at his parent’s home. AP
A man clears debris from a mudslide at his parent’s home. AP

Those massive rocks were seen in the middle of the street, demonstrating the power of the water.

“You can see the water rushing down the street,” Gorden continued. “Big rocks, just like this. And what really amazed me was to see rocks this size. This has got to be at least a few hundred pounds, and you can only imagine the force of the water to push all of this downslope.”

State of Emergency declared

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency for several counties in California to help support storm response and recovery efforts.

The state had mobilized and prepositioned a record 8,500 emergency responders ready to respond to flooding, landslides and travel emergencies, according to the governor’s office.

A whirlpool forms around a city worker in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles as he lifts a manhole cover to clear street flooding. AP
A whirlpool forms around a city worker in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles as he lifts a manhole cover to clear street flooding. AP

The State of Emergency included Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

The atmospheric river storm had also prompted emergency officials in several areas to order evacuations and open emergency shelters for residents.

Several schools in the area were also closed because of the extreme weather event, according to FOX 11 Los Angeles.

Travel impacted

Travel across the region has been impacted because of the effects of the atmospheric river.

Emergency officials in several communities have urged people to stay off roads due to fears that landslides, mudslides, rockslides and additional debris flows could severely damage roads, as well as cover them with floodwaters.

There have been reports of cars floating down the street in the Hollywood Hills, and the Santa Barbara Airport has been closed due to flooding on the airport’s runways.

The airport said commercial flights had been canceled, general aviation operations were paused, and the terminal closed.

Several inches of rain left to come

Southern California from the Los Angeles area southward to San Diego will likely pick up an additional 2-3 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts of 3-5 inches also possible through Wednesday.