The damage coming from the most recent “atmospheric river” storm system is mounting rapidly as the storms continue to rage across the state of California with catastrophic flooding and dangerous conditions.
Close to 34 million residents of Florida, which equates to almost 90% of the state’s overall population, still currently sit under a flood watch, as reported by the maps of the National Weather Service. The massive levels of rain from the storms are way above the state’s average, which has ended up causing multiple cities to shatter previously set records for rainfall over the past few days. These storm cells also seem to be heavily threatening critical infrastructure — shutting down or totally collapsing roads, knocking out power, and sparking, as of writing, at least one mudslide to sweep across the state.
Close to 100,000 residents were issued evacuation orders or warnings as of Tuesday morning. Of that, a total of 49,000 were issued evacuation orders; these orders were put into effect for Santa Cruz County to the north and a few sections of Santa Barbara County, which included the city of Montecito, to the south.
“Nearly all of California has seen much above average rainfall totals over the past several weeks, with totals 400-600% above average values,” explained this past Tuesday morning by the NWS Weather Prediction Center.
A number of cities all over the state had historic rainfall counts. As explained by CNN, the area of downtown Santa Barbara saw a grand total of roughly 6.37 inches of rainfall this past Monday, a record-shattering level for the city. Nearby to this, the city of Moorpark was washed with well over 4 inches of rain, marking the second-highest total in the city’s history. A report of 4.1 inches of rain came from San Luis Obispo McChesney Field Regional Airport which beat its previously established rainfall record by close to half an inch. A report from the San Francisco Chronicle explained that the city of San Francisco measured a staggering 12.37 inches over the 16-day stretch from December 26 and January 9, cementing the spot as the third-largest rainfall total in a two-week span since 1962.
These storms have drastically affected the way people get around throughout the state as well. A shocking number of roads all over the state have been reportedly shut down or damaged in the wake of the storm. State Route 9 from Santa Cruz was reportedly shut down in a total of 4 different locations as of Tuesday morning while state routes 35 and 236 were closed entirely, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. Later on that same day, Interstate 80 located in the Sierra Nevada was shut down because of both whiteout and high wind conditions.
A Tuesday morning press release coming from the California Department of Transportation concluded that over 9 different highways were expriencing closures.