Atmospheric rivers in the skies above California continue to inundate the state with record rainfall, flooding and mudslides.
Atmospheric rivers (ARs) have now entered the lexicon of Californians as these long, narrow moisture streams that stretch for hundreds of miles in the atmosphere continued to pummel the state over the weekend and into Monday.
Record rainfalls throughout much of California the past few weeks have led to massive flooding — some are predicting the Monterey Peninsula just south of San Francisco could soon become an island if it continues, as it did during massive flooding back in 1995. The heavy rainfalls, which in some areas dropped 50% to 70% of the normal amount of annual precipitation in just over two weeks, also have caused mudslides and the deaths of at least 19 people, according to CNN reports.
On January 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the White House had approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state’s emergency response to ongoing storm impacts including flooding, mudslides and landslides in communities across the state. The Presidential Major Disaster Declaration will help Californians in impacted counties through eligibility for several programs and supports, and includes public assistance to help state, tribal and local governments with ongoing emergency response and recovery costs and hazard mitigation. The declaration makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz. Additional impacted counties may be included once storm conditions allow state, local and federal officials to safely assess the scope of damage. Newsom had already activated the State Operations Center to its highest level and proclaimed a state of emergency statewide.
“This isn’t over; we must remain vigilant. Stay safe, make the necessary preparations, and limit non-essential travel,” Newsom said in a recent statement. “Floods, landslides, and storms don’t care who you are or where you live – it’ll hit you just the same. We have lost too much – too many people to these storms and in these waters.”
And the flooding could intensify, even if the rains lighten, now that the ground is super-saturated. The only silver lining to this atmospheric river of rainfall in California is that areas in Southern California that just had been issued a drought emergency notification a few weeks ago now have had that notification lifted.
But that’s not much consolation for those in the affected regions.
“By some estimates 22 to 25 trillion gallons of water have fallen over the course last 16-17 days — the stacking of these atmospheric rivers the likes of which we’ve not experienced in our lifetimes,” Newsom said. “The reality is this is just the eighth of what we anticipate will be nine atmospheric rivers.”
And more rain is expected.
While the latest atmospheric river on Monday is expected to track more toward inland areas, it still could wreak more havoc on the coastline. While the Bay Area may get a bit of a break from the heavy rains, the arrival of the most recent atmospheric river prompted wind and flood advisories to be issued on Monday along the Pacific Coast, from the San Francisco Bay area to San Diego County.
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