Meteorologists are predicting another round of torrential rain in California, which has struggled to cope with flooding and power outages from an ‘atmospheric river’ that inundated the west coast of the United States over the weekend .
Atmospheric rivers are long columns of moving water vapor that usually release heavy rain and snow when they reach land. The US National Weather Service expects a second atmospheric river to move in from the Pacific Ocean and bring more rain to California by late Tuesday.
“Today’s rainfall appears modest, but the system afterward continues to be impressive,” the service’s San Francisco Bay Area office said on Twitter Monday. “Winds during the January 4-5 rain event will increase the risk of downed trees and power outages. Gusts of 35 to 55 mph, locally higher on ridges, are possible.
As of Monday, several areas of northern California remained under flood watches, meaning conditions are favorable for rising water levels, or flood warnings, meaning flooding is imminent. The weather service predicted that some coastal areas could receive up to 152mm of rain from the incoming storm.
In Sacramento County, an agricultural region east of the San Francisco Bay Area where the state capital is located, flooding broke levees and inundated roads and highways. Evacuation orders were issued over the weekend.
Emergency rescue teams helped stranded drivers and found at least one person dead in a submerged vehicle on Sunday.
“Too many road closures to count at this point,” the Sacramento Weather Agency said in a tweet over the weekend.
The power outages also affected more than 150,000 people in the region, a number that had been reduced to around 6,300 on Monday.
Dozens of drivers were also rescued on New Year’s Eve on Interstate 80 near Lake Tahoe, east of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Authorities have warned residents that high winds could topple trees and lead to power outages. Across the California border, on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, American movie star Jeremy Renner was among those injured in weather-related crashes.
In the Bay Area, fallen trees closed roads and the city of San Francisco received 140 mm (5.5 inches) of rain Saturday evening, making it the second wettest day on record.
As the state struggles to cope with a devastating drought that has made the past three years the driest on record, the heavy rains are a welcome respite. However, it would take a lot more rainfall to make a significant difference.
. California prepare heavy rain after days flood weather news