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Weekend brings more rain, snow to storm-hit California

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2023-01-14T23:31:29Z

A new weather system packing rain, snow and strong winds moved into storm-lashed California on Saturday, the latest in a parade of atmospheric rivers that have wreaked havoc across the state in recent weeks.

While next week should bring some respite, the first of two systems expected to hit California over the U.S. holiday weekend pushed onshore on Saturday, threatening to unleash more heavy rain across the waterlogged state, the National Weather Service said.

A series of atmospheric rivers rarely seen in such frequent succession has pounded the Golden State since Dec. 26, killing at least 19 people and bringing floods, power outages, mudslides, evacuations and road closures.

Nearly 23,000 utility customers were without power as of Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us.

The storms have dropped half the average annual rainfall on the agricultural Central Valley and as much as 15 feet (4.5 m) of snow in the mountains.

Flood warnings and advisories were issued across the state on Saturday, from Los Angeles county to the Bay Area.

A neighborhood in the Santa Cruz County community of Felton in central California flooded for the second time in a week on Saturday.

Floodwaters from the rising San Lorenzo River, which cuts through the town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, inundated Felton Grove, triggering emergency evacuations.

Trash cans were seen floating down streets, with water levels reaching stop signs and overtaking parked vehicles.

Some residents waded through floodwaters and mud to clean debris.

A levee breach in the Bear Creek area of Merced in the San Joaquin Valley flooded homes and stranded animals, according to local media, as officials worked to prevent high waters from overflowing.

At least seven waterways were officially flooded, the California Department of Water Resources said on Friday.

Among the waterways of concern, the Salinas River in northern California flooded roads and farmland on Friday, when 24,000 people were urged to evacuate.

California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters on Saturday he expected President Joe Biden to sign a major disaster declaration to help the state respond to the emergency.

“My hope and expectation is that we will (get the disaster declaration) because that’s the intention of the president,” Newsom said at a news conference on Saturday.

In the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, heavy snow and strong winds brought whiteout conditions in some areas that prompted road closures as officials asked people to stay off the roads.

Snowfall in the Sierras had topped 21 inches as of Saturday morning, with about 10 feet already on the ground, according to the University of California at Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab.

“We’re expecting another 2-3 feet of snow by Monday morning, so much more to come!,” the research station said in a Twitter post.

The storms have mitigated but not solved the region’s drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor revised on Thursday its assessment to lift virtually all of the state out of extreme drought or exceptional drought, the two worst categories, though much of it is still considered to be suffering moderate or severe drought.

Related Galleries:

The Russian River, swollen with stormwater, flows alongside Highway 101 in Hopland, California, U.S. January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

The Russian River, swollen with stormwater, flows alongside Highway 101 in Hopland, California, U.S. January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

The San Lorenzo River rises with emergency evacuation orders in Felton Grove, California, U.S., January 14, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Melissa Foley clears debris and helps in her neighborhood as the San Lorenzo River rises with emergency evacuation orders in Felton Grove, California, U.S., January 14, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

A country highway on agricultural land is flooded by the Salinas River in Salinas, California, U.S., January 13, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Floodwaters cover farmland and Highway 175 following a chain of winter storms in Hopland, California, U.S. January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

The San Lorenzo River rises with emergency evacuation orders in Felton Grove, California, U.S., January 14, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Pete Dal Ferro wades through his neighborhood as the San Lorenzo River rises with emergency evacuation orders in Felton Grove, California, U.S., January 14, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Local residents pick up sandbags in order to protect their homes from further flooding after winter storms brought high winds and heavy rain and before another storm forecasted the next day, in Merced, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Laure Andrillon

Local residents Tino Lazaro and his son Ayden Lazaro pick up sandbags in order to protect their homes from flooding, after winter storms brought high winds and heavy rain and before another storm forecasted the next day, in Merced, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Laure Andrillon

Water from the rainstorm-swollen Russian River flows past the town of Guerneville, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

A submerged and abandoned car is seen in floodwaters near a vineyard after winter storms in Forestville, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

Cars in heavy rain drive past a storm warning sign on Highway 101, in Cloverdale, California, U.S. January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

A home on agricultural land is seen amid flooding from the Salinas River in Salinas, California, U.S., January 13, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

A road sign is seen next to a country highway on agricultural land amid flooding from the Salinas River, in Salinas, California, U.S., January 13, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Winter storm fueled waves crash ashore in Jenner, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

A home on agricultural land is seen amid flooding from the Salinas River in Salinas, California, U.S., January 13, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

A truck drives past floodwaters on Trenton-Healdsburg Road in Forestville, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

A crew repairs damage to Highway 1 caused by a winter storm in Jenner, California, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

A country highway on agricultural land is flooded by the Salinas River in Salinas, California, U.S., January 13, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Aerial view of a flooded street after winter storms brought high winds and heavy rain in Atwater, California, U.S. January 12, 2023. REUTERS/Laure Andrillon


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