Nineteen dead as California storm chaos continues

The death toll for the ongoing storms in California has risen to 19 people, Bloomberg reports, citing updated government statistics.

“We aren’t out of the woods yet,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Director Nancy Ward said during a media briefing Friday, according to the publication. “These storms are amongst the most-deadly natural disasters in the modern history of our state.”

As rains and floods continued across the state, at least 16,000 people were without electricity, according to data from

Heavy snows also continued at higher elevations.

State Route 92 remains closed indefinitely near Half Moon Bay after a sinkhole opened in the road beginning on Wednesday, cutting off the community from other parts of the Bay Area.

“It’s a big problem on the coast being isolated,” councilmember Harvey Rarback told the San Mateo Daily Journal.

A local restaurant, Taqueria Gallina, has partnered with World Central Kitchen, the disaster zone nonprofit from celebrity chef José Andrés, to provide hundreds of free meals to local residents who’ve lost power or had to evacuate their homes.

Further south, in Monterey County, the swollen Salinas River began flooding nearby farm fields on Thursday, raising fears that the water would cut off Highways 1 and 68, effectively turning the county into an island.

However, forecasters said on Friday the threat of highway closures was reduced based on updated projections.

“It doesn’t look like it was quite as strong as anticipated,” Colby Goatley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey, told the Los Angeles Times.

In San Luis Obispo County, officials continued searching for Kyle Doan, who was swept out of his mother’s arm in flood waters on Monday, though the National Guard and others have been relieved from the mission.

“Hope is not lost. We are searching for Kyle, and we will keep this case as an active missing person case until we find him,” San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Nate Paul told CNN.

Eight atmospheric river-fueled storms have washed over California since Christmas, dumping an estimated 24 trillion gallons of water on the Golden State.

The storms have caused more than $1bn in damage.

“It’s likely that this is going to be at least several billion dollars,” Jonathan Porter, chief meteorologist at AccuWeather, told the New York Times. “It will unfortunately join the club of billion-dollar disasters.”

Two more storms are expected in California in the coming days, delivering heavy rains on Saturday in Northern California, then another bout of bad weather on Monday in the center of the state, the Washington Post reports.