“If anyone has any doubt about Mother Nature and her fury, if anyone has any doubt about what this is all about in terms of what’s happening to the climate and the changes that we are experiencing, come to California,” the governor said.
California’s latest atmospheric river was one of two storm systems that bookended the U.S. this week. Parts of New England and New York were digging out of a nor’easter Wednesday that caused tens of thousands of power outages, numerous school cancellations and whiteout conditions on roads.
Remaining showers across Southern California were expected to decrease through Wednesday evening as the storm headed toward parts of the Great Basin. The weather service said California will see minor precipitation this weekend, followed by another substantial storm next week.
Three clifftop apartment buildings were evacuated Wednesday morning when earth slid away from their backyards in coastal San Clemente, the Orange County Fire Authority said. Residents were also cleared out of a nearby building as the severity of the slide was studied.
Orange County had already declared a local emergency when a similar hillside collapsed March 3 in Newport Beach, leaving a house uninhabitable and endangering others.
For downtown Los Angeles, the National Weather Service said just under two feet of rain has been recorded so far this water year — making this the 14th wettest in more than 140 years of records.
An overnight mudslide onto a road in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles County trapped two cars, KNBC-TV reported. Another hillside in the neighborhood also gave way, threatening the foundation of a hilltop home.
Weather in the northern and central sections of the state had dried out earlier, following Tuesday’s heavy rain and fierce winds that blew out windows on a San Francisco high-rise and gusted to 74 mph at the city’s airport.
Forty-three of the state’s 58 counties have been under states of emergency due to the storms.
Despite California’s rains winding down, flood warnings remain in effect on the central coast for the Salinas and Pajaro rivers in Monterey County and other rivers in the Central Valley as water runs off land that has been saturated by storms since late December.
Runoff from a powerful atmospheric river last week burst a levee on the Pajaro River, triggering evacuations as water flooded farmland and agricultural communities. Nearly half of the people under evacuation orders were in Monterey County. Closed sections of the Pacific Coast Highway in the area were expected to reopen Wednesday night.
The first phase of repairs on the 400-foot levee breach was completed Tuesday afternoon, and crews were working to raise the section to full height, county officials said.
Damage continued to emerge elsewhere in the state. In the Sequoia National Forest, the Alta Sierra Ski Resort said it would be closed for at least two weeks because of extensive flooding and infrastructure damage, citing the U.S. Forest Service. There is also “massive slide potential” on the highway serving the resort, the resort tweeted.
California was deep in drought before an unexpected series of atmospheric rivers barreled into the state from late December through mid-January, causing flooding while building a staggering snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
Storms powered by arctic air followed in February, creating blizzard conditions that buried mountain communities under so much snow that structures began collapsing.