Deadly storm in California causes numerous mudslides, widespread power outages

(Xinhua) 16:30, February 07, 2024

SACRAMENTO, the United States, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- A severe storm system struck California on Saturday, resulting in at least three fatalities, nearly 140,000 people without power, and millions under flood alerts as of Tuesday. The storm unleashed mudslides, flooded roadways, and triggered widespread power outages.

Authorities said three individuals were killed on Sunday after being struck by falling trees during the intense storm. In the affected areas, wind speeds ranged from 64 to 97 km per hour.

On Tuesday, the San Diego fire department discovered a fourth body floating near a shopping center. However, authorities are currently unable to determine whether the incident is weather-related.

As of Tuesday noon, nearly 140,000 customers in California were without power, as reported by poweroutage.us, a platform that monitors power outages nationwide. The outage predominantly impacted residents in the northern regions of the state, where strong winds during the weekend caused the toppling of trees and power lines.

A historic atmospheric river brought record-breaking rainfall, heavy snow, and strong winds to California during the storm.

The stricken areas, particularly in Southern California, which typically face dry winters, were inundated with torrents of rain, transforming streets into mud-laden rivers, and leaving millions under flood alerts.

Victims shared video footage and photos on social media, showing the devastation, such as a car stuck in a mudslide in a Beverly Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles, a tree falling onto a home in San Jose, the debris of a home destroyed by a mudslide in Los Angeles, and firefighters rescuing a dog from a homeless encampment surrounded by floodwater in San Bernardino.

On Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for eight California counties, including Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared an emergency Monday after the storm caused 30 cm of rainfall in some areas of the city, triggering mudslides and evacuations.

Two evacuation orders remained in place Tuesday in Los Angeles. Emergency services are continuing to deal with hazards like mudslides, debris flows, flash flooding, fallen trees and blocked roads across the greater Los Angeles area.

Los Angeles has experienced over half of its average annual rainfall in just three days. As of Tuesday morning, the city has received almost 20 cm of rainfall in the past 72 hours, surpassing its annual average of 36 cm.

The city's fire department said over 300 mudslides and debris flows were reported in Los Angeles.

Authorities are investigating the safety of 35 structures damaged during the storm. At least five have been "red tagged," indicating no re-entry is allowed, while seven were tagged as "yellow," allowing occupants to enter and retrieve their belongings.

Rain and potential flash flooding will expand Tuesday into western Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah as the storm slowly moves east, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

The storm is still impacting the most heavily populated part of the state and has damaged homes and businesses in highly developed and well-populated areas, including some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the state, said AccuWeather, a weather forecast app that provides commercial weather forecasting services, on Tuesday.

AccuWeather estimates that the preliminary total damage and economic loss from the intense storms and record rainfall in California this week will range between 9 and 11 billion U.S. dollars.

The figures could rise as the storm effects are continuing to be felt and some areas of the state have not yet reported complete information about damage, injuries, and other impacts, the company said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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