A powerful storm moves toward the central US after hitting California with dangerous flooding, forcing rescues and evacuations

(CNN) — A powerful storm system that struck California on New Year’s Eve, causing widespread flooding and power outages, is moving toward the central United States on Monday, and more than 15 million people from the West Coast to Illinois are under watches. of winter weather.

the atmospheric rivera long, narrow region in the atmosphere that can carry moisture thousands of miles, fueled a parade of storms that dumped thick snow over mountains and drenched Northern California, closing roads and prompting rescue and evacuation orders for Water.

At least two people were killed in the storm, including one who was found dead inside a fully submerged vehicle Saturday in Sacramento County, and a 72-year-old man who died after being struck by a fallen tree in a Santa park. Cruz, according to authorities.

Many others in Northern California were rescued from floodwaters when rivers swelled and roads became impassable.

As of Sunday night there were 103,000 homes, businesses and other power customers without power in California and Nevada, down from a high of more than 300,000 outages on Saturday, according to Poweroutage.US.

Snow is expected Monday in the Rocky Mountains, the northern Plains and eventually parts of the Midwest where winter storm watches are posted.

Widespread snowfall of 4 to 8 inches is forecast, but in the higher elevations of the mountains 12 to 24 inches of snow could be expected.

At the southern end of the storm, a severe storm is possible across the South Monday through Tuesday.

Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana are at risk of severe storms Monday, with damaging winds, strong tornadoes and hail. The storms are expected to begin in the afternoon and continue through the night.

California communities evacuated due to widespread flooding

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Three vehicles are submerged on Dillard Road west of Highway 99 in south Sacramento County in Wilton, California, on Sunday, after heavy rain on New Year’s Eve. (Credit: Hector Amezcua/AP)

An evacuation order was issued for the rural areas of Point Pleasant in Sacramento County on Sunday, while the Glanville Tract and Franklin Pond were under an evacuation warning.

“Cosumnes River and Mokelumne River flooding is expected to move southwest toward I-5 and could reach these areas in the middle of the night,” the agency tweeted.

The day before, rising floodwaters forced the evacuation of Wilton, California, as well as three communities near the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.

A Flash Flood Watch has been activated along and west of the 5 Freeway toward the Sacramento River, where there were concerns of excessive rainfall and flooding in the Cosumnes and Mokelumne rivers.

The storm disrupted travel across several highways in Northern California amid reports of flooded roads and mudslides.

Flooding from the Cosumnes River forced the closure of Highway 99 south of Elk Grove in Sacramento County, the California Department of Transportation tweeted. “SR 99 is one of the busiest and most commercially important corridors in the state,” its website adds.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate KCRA showed cars submerged past their door handles in floodwaters from the 99 Freeway and Dillard Street area. Chris Schamber, a fire captain with the Cosumnes Fire Department, told the station that “dozens and dozens” of people had been rescued.

US Highway 101, one of California’s most famous routes, was also temporarily closed in both directions south of San Francisco on Saturday with the California Highway Patrol reporting that “the water is not receding due to the continuous rains and high tides that prevent the water from moving”.

The weather system is expected to bring light to moderate valley rain and mountain snow to the area Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

It is unclear how much this storm will affect the drought conditions that have persisted in California, which began in 2022. with the driest start to the year on record and ended with flooded roads and swollen rivers.

Mountainous areas of Northern California posted impressive snow totals over the weekend.

Places in the Sierra above 5,000 feet received about 8 to 45 inches of snow from Saturday through early Sunday, and another round of lighter snow is on the way.

Sierra Snow Lab recorded a 24-hour snow total of 30 inches, Bear Valley Ski Resort recorded 21 inches, Boreal Ski Resort received 40 inches, Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort 42 inches and Soda Springs saw 40 inches of snow, according to the Service. Meteorological.

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