Soggy California drenched anew as Nor'easter buries New England, New York
Up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain was forecast in some areas of California, while up to 3 feet (0.9 m) of fresh snow was expected to hit high-mountain elevations where snowdrifts already reach rooftops, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Along California's coast and lower inland areas, the heavy rain and melting alpine snow triggered a renewed threat of flooding from rain-swollen rivers and streams, compromising levees.
The latest in a series of atmospheric river storms soaked California on Tuesday, bringing another deluge of rain to the already-saturated state, while a Nor'easter swirling over New York and New England prompted emergency orders and closed roads. Up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain was forecast in some areas of California, while up to 3 feet (0.9 m) of fresh snow was expected to hit high-mountain elevations where snowdrifts already reach rooftops, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Along California's coast and lower inland areas, the heavy rain and melting alpine snow triggered a renewed threat of flooding from rain-swollen rivers and streams, compromising levees. Forecasts warned of widespread uprooting of trees and down power lines from winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour (113 km per hour). "Lives and property are in great danger from Tuesday into Wednesday," the weather service said in its California forecast, warning residents to expect flash flooding in areas that do not normally experience it.
In anticipation of the "atmospheric river" — a current of air laden with dense tropical moisture from the Pacific —emergency crews filled sandbags and patrolled levees and riverbanks around the clock. Nine atmospheric rivers lashed California in rapid succession from late December through mid-January, triggering widespread flooding, levee failures, mudslides and punishing surf. At least 20 people perished.
Another such storm drenched much of the state on Thursday night and Friday, causing levee failures along the Pajaro River in Monterey County and flooding entire communities made of predominantly of migrant farm workers. Even as the 11th atmospheric river of the season soaked the region once more on Tuesday, emergency crews scrambled to patch the Parajo's earthen levee with rocks and fill. Some 21,000 people in the flood zone remained under evacuation orders or warnings, officials said.
"The impact of this is really ramping up today," said Marc Chenard, a meteorologist with the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. Most of the heavy weather would occur on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, but flooding will persist. Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for residents in 10 California counties on Tuesday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The greatest flood risks are from California's Central Coast to the southern Sierra Nevada foothills.
Chenard said that at elevations higher than 5,000 feet (1,500 m), the snowpack absorbs rain like a sponge. But the real risk is at lower elevations where rain runs off the snow, melting much of it and bringing floods and mudslides. At Front Porch Farms in Healdsburg about 70 miles north of San Francisco, Tommy Otey said he was glad to see his 11 million-gallon reservoir filling, after years of historic drought that parched California and forced his farm to downsize.
"This should last us the whole season," said Otey, who primarily sells flowers to Bay Area florists. Experts warn that climate change is causing more severe droughts and heat waves in California, punctuated by occasional but excessively rainy periods.
'IMPOSSIBLE' TRAVEL IN NORTHEAST In the Northeast and New England, a Nor'easter storm had already dumped 20 inches of snow in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut, and 8 inches had fallen in Albany, New York. Forecasters expected as much as 2 more feet of snow on Tuesday.
As many as 267,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Northeast, including New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut, according to data from PowerOutage.us. Rock-salt and snow shovels were flying off shelves on Tuesday at Rocky's Ace Hardware in Worcester, Massachusetts, west of Boston, said the manager, Joshua Rivera, 21.
About 5 inches of snow had dropped in the city by noon and was still coming down hard as the day wore on. "It's getting pretty bad out there, but we're going to try to stay open," Rivera said.
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Monday night for 37 counties covering Albany, central New York and the mid-Hudson and North Country regions. Heavy snow could fall at a rate of 2 inches an hour in some areas of upstate New York with high winds, making travel impossible, the NWS said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)