Photo: Ethan Swope Associated Press Firefighters rescue a woman from a homeless encampment that was surrounded by floodwaters from the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino.
France Media Agency in Los Angeles
- United States
A severe storm brought dangerous flooding and bitter winds to California on Monday, killing at least three people and cutting power to nearly half a million homes.
Tears of water fall on the south of the “Golden State”, where it has been raining continuously for more than 24 hours. In the north, where the gusts were very violent, at least three people died on Sunday due to falling trees, according to local authorities.
“This is a major storm, with dangerous consequences that could potentially put lives at risk,” California Governor Gavin Newsom warned, proclaiming a state of emergency in eight of the 58 counties in the state.
Those of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Santa Barbara, all located in the South, are particularly affected.
Like the rest of the region, the city of Los Angeles experiences flooding capable of cutting off certain roads or intersections, as well as dangerous landslides. This notably pushed the authorities to issue evacuation orders for the Hollywood and Santa Monica hills, which overlook the metropolis.
In this wealthy area, mudslides literally buried cars and caused a house to slide off its foundations, according to images from local channel KTLA.
Photo: David Crane Associated Press In Los Angeles, in the Beverly Crest neighborhood, a car was buried by a landslide.
“It sounded like a clap of thunder,” Dave Christensen, a local resident, told this channel.
“When I went out to see what had happened, I saw a water heater where the house had been, and sure enough, the house had slid down the slope onto the road,” he said.
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For Los Angeles, “yesterday was the tenth wettest day since we started recording precipitation levels in 1877,” Mayor Karen Bass said at a press conference Monday.
“Now more than ever, stay safe and stay off the roads. Only leave your home if absolutely necessary,” she insisted.
The authorities are increasing messages of caution, because the rain is expected to continue until Tuesday, or even Wednesday. It falls on soils already saturated by a first storm last week, which increases the risk of flooding, because the earth no longer absorbs anything.
“The Los Angeles metropolitan area, as well as areas approximately 50 miles to the east and west, remain at high risk of severe flooding, debris flows and landslides for at least the next 24 hours,” Daniel Swain, an extreme weather expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, warned Monday.
Large power cuts
More than 400,000 homes and businesses remained cut off from electricity Monday afternoon, according to the specialist site PowerOutage.us. This particularly affects the northern part of the state, where winds of more than 100 mph were recorded in the San Francisco area on Sunday.
On Monday, dozens of flights departing and arriving at Los Angeles Airport were canceled or delayed.
Like the previous storm, this one is caused by an “atmospheric river”: a gigantic rain corridor that transforms water vapor stored in the tropics around Hawaii. In California, this particular phenomenon is nicknamed “Pineapple Express”.
The west coast of the United States endured an unusually wet winter last year, due to a series of closely spaced storms that brought near-record rainfall.
Photo: Eric Risberg Associated Press In San Francisco Bay, winds reached 96 km/h on Monday.
These disasters caused more than twenty deaths and caused numerous damages and power outages. But they allowed California to replenish part of its water reserves after several years of intense drought.
Historically, California is used to alternating between hot spells and intense rains and it is always complicated to link a particular meteorological event to climate change.
Nevertheless, scientists have been warning for years that global warming is disrupting the climate and increasing the frequency of extreme events, whether storms or heatwaves.