Flooding, mudslides threaten California amid back-to-back winter storms

Written by on February 19, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — Some 37 million people remain on alert for flooding in California, spanning the coast from the cities of Eureka to San Diego.

An area just northwest of Santa Barbara is under a flash flood warning until at least 10:30 a.m. PT on Monday, due to back-to-back winter storms bringing up to 4 inches of rainfall with another 3 to 4 inches expected. Flash flooding, mud and debris flows, as well as landslides and rockslides will likely occur there.

More than 2.5 inches of rain had already fallen in Santa Barbara before dawn on Monday.

San Francisco has gotten less than 1 inch so far, but higher elevations north of the city have reported 2 to 4 inches of rain from the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Redding area has seen around 2 inches of rain.

Severe storms could hit the Sacramento region on Monday, with a risk of brief tornadoes, damaging winds, large amounts of small hail, lightning and heavy rainfall rates. The period between Noon and 8 p.m. PT will be the greatest threat for storm in this area.

There is a moderate risk for excessive rainfall over the Santa Barbara area on Monday. This area will continue to see heavy rainfall, especially in the morning, with flash flooding likely and mudslides and rockslides as the main risk.

There is also a slight risk for excessive rainfall from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as over Redding, Sacramento and Fresno on Monday.

Much of the areas under flood watches are also on alert for high winds. Gusts could reach 40 to 60 miles per hour on Monday, especially in the morning.

High surf advisories are in effect from San Francisco to San Diego. Large breaking waves from 18 to 28 feet are possible through Tuesday. Coastal flooding is also possible, especially during high tide.

Total rainfall amounts of 2 to 5 inches are expected over the lower elevations, with 4 to 8 inches over the foothills and mountains with local amounts to 10 inches.

Rainfall rates of 1 inch per hour are possible, however, thunderstorms that develop — possible in southern California in addition to northern California — will induce higher rainfall rates over localized areas.

Downtown Los Angeles only needs 3 inches of rain to have the rainiest February on record.

In the mountains, 2 to 5 feet of snow is generally expected in higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada, along with gusty winds making travel impossible at times.

In the San Bernardino mountains, up to 8 inches of snow is possible, accumulation beginning Monday night and ending Wednesday morning.

The storm system is forecast to continue impacting California through Tuesday before it moves out of the region on Wednesday.

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