New storm hits California, ‘catastrophic flooding’ expected

A new storm began Saturday morning to hit California, which could suffer “catastrophic flooding” after already three weeks of unprecedented rainfall which has caused at least 19 deaths.

A new low-pressure system should “approach the coast on Saturday morning and move inland during the day”, causing floods and landslides, the US weather service (NWS) predicted overnight.

The Monterey Peninsula could be cut off from the world by rising seas, and the entire nearby town of Salinas, which has 160,000 residents, could be flooded. “The entire lower Salinas Valley is going to experience catastrophic flooding,” blocking many roads, the NWS warned.

Kelley O’Connell, a resident of the affected area, is worried after a dike burst near her home.

“If they release the water from the dams or if it rains more, we’re only a field away,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle, while shielding her home with sandbags. .

New storm Monday

Several areas in the region are under evacuation orders, and the affluent city of Monterey, on the Pacific coast, could find itself cut off from the world if the roads are cut off by the waves.

“The Monterey Peninsula could become an island” because of the floods, warned the local sheriff, Tina Nieto, asking residents to prepare to avoid being trapped by the floods.

John Guru, a local resident, stored four days’ worth of provisions in his house and two days in his car in case he was trapped on the road. “I don’t know how serious the situation can get,” he told the Monterey Herald.

A series of storms have battered California in recent weeks. Short lulls barely allow authorities to clean up the mess or restore power.

And it’s not over, according to meteorologists.

A new “atmospheric river”, ie a narrow band in the atmosphere carrying huge amounts of moisture from the tropics, is expected on Monday, a public holiday in the United States. It will bring “new waves of extreme precipitation”, warns the NWS.

One meter of snow

In the mountains, this precipitation translates into heavy snowfall, with more than a meter expected over the weekend in the Sierra Nevada. This makes travel dangerous or impossible. An avalanche warning has also been issued.

At least 19 people have died since the start of this series of bad weather. In particular, drivers were found in their cars trapped by the waves, people hit by falling trees, a couple was killed by a landslide and bodies were washed away by the floods.

California is used to extreme weather conditions, and winter storms are common. Such a sequence, on the other hand, is unusual.

While it is difficult to establish a direct link between these series of storms and climate change, scientists regularly explain that warming increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

However, the torrential rains of the past few weeks will not be enough to end the drought that has hit this western American state hard for two decades, according to specialists.

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