The governor said, “If anyone has any doubt about Mother Nature and her wrath, if anyone has any doubt about what’s happening with the climate and the changes we’re experiencing, If so, come to California.”
California’s latest atmospheric river was one of two storm systems that bookended the US this week. Digging was underway in parts of New England and New York on Easter Wednesday, causing thousands of power outages, many school cancellations and whiteouts on the streets.
The remaining rain in Southern California was expected to subside by Wednesday evening as the storm moved toward parts of the Great Basin. The weather service said California will get moderate rainfall this weekend, followed by another heavy storm next week.
Three clifftop apartment buildings were evacuated Wednesday morning after earth slid through their backyards in coastal San Clemente, the Orange County Fire Authority said. Residents were also evacuated from a nearby building after assessing the severity of the landslide.
Orange County had already declared a local emergency when a similar hillside collapsed on March 3 in Newport Beach, leaving one home uninhabitable and endangering others.
For downtown Los Angeles, the National Weather Service said two feet of rain has been recorded so far this water year — the 14th most in more than 140 years of records.
KNBC-TV reported that two cars were stuck in an overnight mudslide on a road in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles County. Another hill in the neighborhood also gave way, threatening the foundation of a hillside home.
The weather was already dry in the northern and central parts of the state after Tuesday’s heavy rain and strong winds that blew out windows at San Francisco high-rises and gusts up to 74 mph at the city’s airport.
43 of the state’s 58 counties are under a state of emergency because of the storm.
Even as rainfall subsides in California, flood warnings remain in effect for the Salinas and Pajaro Rivers in Monterey County and other rivers in the Central Valley on the Central Coast as water flows from saturated land from storms since late December.
Runoff from a powerful atmospheric river last week breached a levee on the Pajaro River, flooding farms and agricultural communities. About half the people under evacuation orders were in Monterey County. Closed sections of the Pacific Coast Highway in the area were expected to reopen Wednesday night.
County officials said the first phase of repairs on the 400-foot levee breach was completed Tuesday afternoon and crews were working to raise the section to full height.
Damage continued to emerge elsewhere in the state. In Sequoia National Forest, the Alta Sierra Ski Resort said it would be closed for at least two weeks due to extensive flooding and infrastructure damage, citing the US Forest Service. The highway serving the resort also has “huge slide potential,” the resort tweeted.
California was deep in a drought before an unexpected series of atmospheric rivers hit the state from late December to mid-January, causing flooding while creating a staggering snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
In February, storms driven by Arctic air caused blizzard conditions, burying mountain communities under so much snow that structures began to collapse.