The state of California is facing a system of atmospheric rivers since last Wednesday, January 4, which is leaving strong waterspouts and hurricane-force winds. In this scenario, Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency so that the state National Guard can provide support in the response to the disaster. In parallel, fire and rescue teams and personnel have been deployed in areas most likely to experience severe flooding and mudslides.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has asked Californians to prepare for what is to come: a major storm with strong winds, snow and precipitation that will leave flooding with debris flows and mudslides. According to the NWS, this weather event will affect around eight million people with power outages and flooding. The agency’s experts have assured that it is a “truly brutal system”.
For her part, Nancy Ward, the new director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, has described this threat as “one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to make landfall in California in the last five years.” .
What is an atmospheric river?
They are narrow regions of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. They contain a significant amount of water vapor, so they can cause many problems in coastal areas.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the system that affects California transports “an amount of water vapor approximately equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.”
The center and north of the state are being the areas most affected by the intense storm. This trend is expected to continue throughout the days, while Southern California should clear the atmospheric river system as of Friday, January 6.
Four confirmed deaths
In the last few hours, the body of a woman has been found in Sacramento County. According to the hypothesis of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the victim would have been dragged by the current of water. Two other lifeless bodies had previously been found.
As reported by Press Democrat, a child under the age of two has died after a tree fell on him in the town of Occidental, Sonoma County. The emergency services could not do anything to save his life. In this way, deaths due to the storm in California amount to four.
Caution and prevention
Precisely, in Sonoma County, Californians have been asked to evacuate the area, since the Russian River is expected to grow uncontrollably in the coming hours and overflow over the weekend. In other points near rivers such as Capitola, evacuation orders have also been issued, as stated in the Los Angeles Times.
Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, has warned that torrential rains can cause trees to fall, causing power outages. In this regard, Nemeth has recommended that Californians keep emergency kits on hand and keep essential devices charged. At the same time, drivers have been asked to take extreme precautions and only move if absolutely necessary.