President Biden declares state of major disaster in flood-ridden California

Published on : 15/01/2023 – 09:10

New bad weather is expected on Sunday after three weeks of unprecedented rainfall that killed at least 19 people in California.

If California is accustomed to extreme weather conditions, such a sequence is however out of the ordinary. Since December 27, these are waterspouts that fell on the most populous state of the United States, causing flooding, landslides and mudslides. On Saturday, a major flurry of rain — and mountain snow — further swept through many areas of the state, whose soils are already saturated with water.

Power lines were hit, while fields and roads were flooded. Nearly 26 million Californians were still under a flood alert as of Saturday night, according to the NWS, and tens of thousands of them have been ordered to evacuate.

Joe Biden has therefore ordered federal aid to help residents and communities repair the damage caused by these severe winter storms, according to a statement from the White House.

« atmospheric river »

Especially since ” it is not finished “, warned at a press conference the governor of California Gavin Newsom, arguing that even if the rain decreased in intensity, the soils were waterlogged and the risk of flooding therefore remained significant. He called on Californians to remain vigilant after three weeks of deluge: “ I urge all of us to maintain our vigilance and common sense for the next 24 to 48 hours. »

A new ” atmospheric river “, 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, bringing ” new extreme precipitation waves “, warns the National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS expects “ disastrous floods in the lower Salinas River Valley, an important agricultural region south of San Francisco Bay.

Trapped by the waves

In the mountains, this precipitation translates into heavy snowfall, with more than a meter expected over the weekend in the Sierra Nevada, the authorities warning of the risk of avalanche and advising against any movement.

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.

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.

(With AFP)

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