The East and West Coasts are facing a “double whammy” of powerful storms on Tuesday, with hurricane-battered California facing potentially “catastrophic” flooding as the Northeast braces for a powerful nor’easter, forecasters said.
A coastal low speeding into a major nor’easter was expected to strengthen into Easterly, according to the National Weather Service, which will significantly affect the Northeast through Wednesday.
The weather service warned early Tuesday that gusts of 2-3 inches plus per hour and strong winds were expected to make travel “dangerous to impossible.” It said the heavy and wet nature of the snow, combined with maximum wind gusts of 55 miles per hour, would cause power outages and damage to trees.
It said 12 inches or more of snow is expected in New England and upstate New York, with locally possible 24-30 inches of snow.
By early Tuesday, travel was already being affected by severe weather, with ice and snow issuing a ground stop for Delta Air Lines at LaGuardia Airport until at least 6:30 a.m. ET.
New York Gov. Cathy Hochul warned at a news conference on Monday that the storm could be “deadly” as she urged residents not to become complacent.
“We’re no strangers to snow here, but we also want to make sure it doesn’t mean complacency. That’s our biggest fear,” she said. “This is where we are warning people that this can be fatal.”
The governor said the storm could also bring “severe power outages” as he urged New Yorkers to stay home on Tuesday.
His office said the governor declared a state of emergency that went into effect at 8 p.m. Monday.
Personnel and supplies were also deployed on Monday to several areas expected to be affected by the major storm.
The National Grid utility company said in a statement that its storm preparedness team was “monitoring weather forecasts and making preparations to ensure the reliability of the energy distribution system” ahead of Easter.
By Monday night, the Nor’easter had brought heavy rain to Philadelphia as it headed toward the East Coast. Five New Jersey counties were under a weather-related state of emergency, according to the weather service, and a foot of snow was expected along Pennsylvania’s I-80 corridor.
‘Life and property’ in danger in California
In California, the weather service warned that extreme rainfall could cause “severe, widespread flash flooding” in parts of the state’s central and southern regions that could endanger “life and property”.
The warning came as a range stretching from the northern Rockies to central California was expected to bring a wave of low pressure to the coast over the Golden State on Tuesday.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain to parts of California, while higher elevation areas are expected to see heavy snow. Heavy rainfall is also expected in Oregon and the Great Basin.
The weather service said the severe weather could cause “locally catastrophic flooding effects” for parts of California as it moves south along the California coast, the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills.
“Heavy rain, combined with snowmelt in areas below 5,000 feet, is likely to result in more widespread flooding from Tuesday to Wednesday, especially in areas with lower elevations and shallow snowpack,” it said.
“Heavy rain, absorbing particularly deep snow in the Sierra Nevada, along with heavy snow, measuring in feet above about 7,500 feet, will further compound ongoing snow load impacts and issues,” it said.
The weather service’s Weather Prediction Center has issued a high risk of extreme rainfall through Wednesday morning for parts of central and southern California in preparation for the storm’s impact.
“Areas that do not normally experience flash flooding will be inundated,” the weather service said, warning that “life and property are at great risk from Tuesday through Wednesday.”
“Strong damaging winds, power outages, additional flooding, and road closures are anticipated,” said a Weather Service forecast discussion covering the San Francisco Bay Area from Monday night through Tuesday.
It said, ‘Avoid unnecessary travel and complete all preparations as soon as possible.’
The weather service said the risk of extreme rainfall was expected to decrease to a slight risk for parts of southern California and the Southwest by Wednesday morning.
water defense and embankment breach
The latest round of severe weather has come after major flooding and high winds over the weekend.
Officials said at a news conference Monday that first responders, including members of the California National Guard, rescued more than 200 people from the lowlands north of Salinas. A video showing a member of the guard Helping a driver out of a car stuck in water.
Monterey County, a national agricultural hub, was hit hard by the weekend’s storm, with an estimated 2,000 residents of the city of Pajaro under orders to evacuate after a 300-foot breach in a nearby riverbank began to open early Saturday, officials said.
Maia Carroll, a spokeswoman for Monterey County, said a second smaller breach was reported Monday near the mouth of the river. Officials believe it can be beneficial.
“The water is flowing into the sea and providing flood relief upstream,” she said.
Meanwhile, the weather service in Sacramento confirmed Monday that a tornado struck the area of Tuttletown, about 50 miles west of Yosemite National Park, on Saturday. Forecasters said it was an EF-1 tornado, meaning it had winds of at least 79 mph. It said that the storm was accompanied by severe thunderstorms and hail.