12 Californians have died in past 10 days in extreme weather, Newsom says

12 Californians have died in past 10 days in extreme weather, Newsom says

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday that 12 people have died over the past 10 days as the Golden State was battered by extreme weather, which forecasters say will continue over the next few days.

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Northern California were still without power Sunday evening and nearly 3,000 had been evacuated and with almost 200 residents staying in shelters. The Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services on Sunday night ordered the evacuation of Wilton, citing fears that "rising water may soon spill over onto roads in Wilton and cut off evacuation routes."

Newsom has already declared a state of emergency, and on Sunday, he said the state is requesting a presidential emergency declaration as well.

A powerful storm, tied to what the National Weather Service described as "a steady stream of atmospheric river events," is expected to bring heavy rain and snow, potentially in addition to both rock and mudslides, to parts of the Bay Area before beginning to taper off on Tuesday.

Although forecasts indicate that the most severe weather will arrive closer to Monday, upwards of 430,000 electric customers throughout the area had lost power by mid-morning Sunday on the west coast, according to the tracking database PowerOutage.us, which showed nearly half of all tracked customers within the Sacramento Municipal Utility District were experiencing outages.

Counties across the region were placed under a flood watch warning that took effect early on Saturday morning, as the first of two atmospheric rivers brought moderate rainfall to some coastal neighborhoods and up to six inches in others, CBS San Francisco reported. The second storm system is expected to bring heavier rain — up to 10 inches in parts of the North Bay and Santa Cruz mountains — starting early on Monday morning.

"A steady stream of atmospheric river events continue to batter California through early this week with the most potent system arriving on Monday," the National Weather Service's Sacramento office said in an alert. "In this weather pattern, additional rain on saturated soils will lead to considerable flood impacts, including rapid water rises, mudslides and burn scar debris flows."

Debris is seen piled up in front of a restaurant following a massive storm that hit the area on Jan. 6, 2023, in Capitola, California.  / Credit: Getty Images
Debris is seen piled up in front of a restaurant following a massive storm that hit the area on Jan. 6, 2023, in Capitola, California. / Credit: Getty Images

The office noted that "widespread mountain snow and high winds will also produce issues across the state," while forecasters at the weather prediction center warned that snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains could exceed five feet as the more potent storm system rolls in.

"The West Coast remains under the target of a relentless parade of cyclones that form and intensify over the Pacific Ocean while moving directly toward the North American continent," the National Weather Service wrote in a bulletin, which is valid from Sunday until Tuesday.

"Two major episodes of heavy rain and mountain snow are expected to impact northern and central California during the next couple of days," the agency said, adding that the expected "onslaught" of precipitation could prove to be especially damaging because it comes on the heels of other severe storms that have battered portions of the state since late last month.

"With terrain already saturated from previous rainfall, additional bursts of heavy rain will lead to a heightened threat of flash flooding and rapid rise of river levels," the National Weather Service warned. "The longevity and intensity of rain, combined with the cumulative effect of successive heavy rain events dating back to the end of December, will lead to widespread and potentially significant flood impacts."

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