A potent atmospheric river continues to unleash heavy rain, mudslides, and flooding across California, particularly targeting Los Angeles and San Diego with anticipated rainfall totals of up to 3 inches on Tuesday. The National Weather Service warns that areas with higher terrain will likely experience more intense rainfall, following recent days where Southern California endured between 5 to over 10 inches of precipitation. However, forecasters anticipate a slight decrease in rain intensity as the storm system migrates eastward into the desert Southwest, potentially bringing flash flooding risks to western Arizona, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah.
The gravity of the situation prompted Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass to declare a local state of emergency on Monday afternoon, coinciding with flash flood warnings affecting approximately 1.4 million residents in the Los Angeles area. Moreover, eight counties in Southern California have also declared states of emergency in response to the unfolding weather crisis. Preliminary estimates by AccuWeather project the total damage and economic losses in the state to range between $9 billion and $11 billion, underlining the severity of the situation.
Remarkably, the University of California, Los Angeles weather station recorded an astonishing 11.87 inches of rainfall within a 24-hour period on Monday, an event deemed to occur once in a thousand years. Such extreme weather wreaked havoc, as evidenced by a debris flow that inflicted significant damage to around five homes in Beverly Hills, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. While fortunately no individuals were trapped, approximately 10 people found themselves displaced as a result.
Emergency response efforts were mobilized across the region, with the Los Angeles Fire Department reporting the deployment of 1,000 firefighters to address 49 mudslides and debris flows, 130 instances of flooding, several structural fires, and the rescue of motorists stranded in vehicles. Los Angeles also witnessed a record-breaking downpour on Sunday, with over 4 inches of rain recorded, surpassing the previous record for the day by more than an inch. This deluge marked the most substantial single-day rainfall in over two decades, exceeding the average precipitation for the entire month of February.
The adverse weather conditions extended their impact beyond California’s borders, prompting the cancellation of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament in Monterey County. Despite the tournament’s attempt to reschedule Sunday’s final round to Monday, inclement weather persisted, leading organizers to call off play altogether. Despite playing only 54 holes instead of the scheduled 72, Wyndham Clark was declared the winner.
Tragically, the storm’s toll included three fatalities. In Yuba City, a man lost his life when a redwood tree fell on him amid high winds. Additionally, two other men succumbed to fallen trees on Sunday in Carmichael, a suburb of Sacramento, and in Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz County. These incidents underscore the dangers posed by the relentless onslaught of adverse weather conditions gripping the region.