LOS ANGELES, California – The state of California is bracing for an intense and long-lasting atmospheric river that is expected to bring the potential for “life-threatening” flooding, mudslides, and widespread power outages. The slow-moving storm is forecasted to dump heavy rain and snow over the region, with some areas anticipating a month’s worth of rain in just a few days.
A rare Level 4 risk for excessive rainfall has been expanded to include Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Oxnard in Southern California, with a warning of “life-threatening flash and urban flash flooding.” In addition, widespread rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches are expected in Central and Southern California, prompting mandatory evacuation orders for some communities.
The storm is also expected to bring significant snowfall totals in eastern California and along the Nevada border, with dangerous wind gusts likely to produce whiteout conditions in mountainous areas, making travel “near impossible.” Widespread power outages are also a concern, with powerful winds of up to 95 mph expected in some areas.
The atmospheric river comes after another recent storm that brought record rainfall to most of California, and the National Weather Service has warned that the worst of the upcoming storm will fall between Sunday and Tuesday. Parts of the central and southern coastline, including the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas, are expected to see the most significant amounts of rain and flooding.
State officials are urging residents to take precautions and prepare for the potential impacts of the storm, including major rises on creeks, streams, and rivers, as well as mud and rock slides. More than 8,500 personnel, including swift water and helicopter rescue teams, have been deployed statewide to respond to any potential calls for help.
As the powerful storm approaches, wind advisories and high wind warnings have been issued for nearly 30 million people across the entire state, prompting officials to advise against non-essential travel and to plan for alternative power sources in case of power outages.
“This is a very, very dangerous storm,” said Nancy Ward, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “So take care of yourselves, your loved ones, … please check on an elderly neighbor, those folks that you know that may be homebound.”