California is bracing for more extreme weather this weekend, when two more storms barrel into the state on Friday and over the weekend.
The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy rain and flooding in the northern parts of the state on Saturday and into early Sunday morning, urging residents late on Thursday to “stay weather aware and prepare now”.
Since the start of the year, California has been hammered by a succession of storms with northwestern and central California already soaked by between 10 and 20 inches in the last two weeks alone.
While the heavy rain has started to raise reservoir levels, experts say it will take far more to reverse the effects of years of drought.
At least 18 people have now died in incidents linked to the extreme weather with the body of a 43-year-old woman discovered in a submerged vehicle in Sonoma County on Wednesday.
Near the city of Paso Robles, five-year-old Kyle Doan, swept away in the floodwaters when he and his mother Lindsey Doan got stuck in their car, is still missing.
Kyle’s father said that his wife unbuckled their son and the pair climbed out of the sinking car when it got stuck.
“He was calm. He was trying to say, ‘Stay calm, Mom,” he said. “She was doing her best.”
Montecito creek becomes raging torrent after California storm
A canal overflowed with water in Montecito as the latest powerful storms hit California on Monday, 10 January. The extreme weather has prompted widespread evacuations, toppled trees and frustrated motorists who have hit roadblocks caused by fallen debris. The entire community of Montecito, where this video was captured, came on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes. Tens of thousands of people were without power and some schools shut for the day. At least 14 people have died as of Monday, state officials have confirmed. Sign up for our newsletters.
Search for missing boy called off due to dangerous water levels
A roughly seven-hour search for the missing five-year-old boy turned up only his shoe before officials called it off as water levels were too dangerous for divers, officials said. The boy has not been declared dead, said spokesperson Tony Cipolla of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
The boy’s mother was driving a truck when it became stranded in floodwaters just before 8am near Paso Robles, a small city inland from California’s central coast, according to Tom Swanson, assistant chief of the Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department.
Bystanders were able to pull the mother out of the truck, but the boy was swept out of the vehicle and downstream, likely into a river, Mr Swanson said. There was no evacuation order in the area at the time.
Where are California’s extreme storms headed?
The barrage of severe conditions will persist on Tuesday across central and southern California as the system slowly shifts south.
The heaviest rain was concentrated southeast of the state capital of Sacramento in the northern area of the San Joaquin Valley. Heavy snowfall was impacting higher elevations of the central and southern Sierra Nevada mountain range.
High wind warnings have been forecast for coastal and southern California, and flood watches for much of the state’s coastline into the Sacramento valley.
Louise Boyle reports on the latest developments.
At least 14 people have been killed and the search was called off for a five-year-old boy who was swept away in raging floodwaters
Dramatic rescue as cars plummet into sinkhole in Los Angeles
There was a dramatic rescue by firefighters after two cars fell into a massive sinkhole that opened up in one Los Angeles neighbourhood on Monday night as the seeminly relentless storm continued.
A pickup truck drove into the large sinkhole on a street in Chatsworth and landed on top of another vehicle that had already fallen in. The incident was reported at around 7.15pm and a rescue operation involving some 50 Los Angeles firefighters was launched.
Each vehicle had two occupants when they fell into the 15-foot-deep sinkhole, KABC reports. The two people in the pickup truck were able able to escape unaided.
An initial attempt to rescue the teenage girl and woman in the lower vehicle “involved bringing ground ladders and laying them down to span the hole so crews could try to reach the victims but this was not successful,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement.
“Meanwhile, the road continued to slough and although firefighters had tried to stabilise the vehicle, it was shifting and starting to roll within the sinkhole,” the statement said. “With the entire road compromised, firefighters had to make an immediate rescue to save the lives of the two people trapped.”
Eventually, an aerial ladder was deployed to position rescuers over the hole, and a rope operation lowered a firefighter down to secure each victim and hoist them to safety. The girl and woman had minor injuries and were taken to hospital for evaluation.
Watch: California storm hits San Francisco
Search for missing boy resumes
Officials in San Luis Obispo County have resumed their search for the five-year-old boy swept away during Monday’s storm.
The little boy, named Kyle Doan, was suspended on Monday due to unsafe weather conditions and water depths.
“A break in the intense storms is allowing today's search which will involve all available resources of the Sheriff's Office including the USAR (Underwater Search and Rescue) Team and air operations. The conditions, however, remain extremely dangerous. The water level is high and continues to be fast-moving,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.
Inches of water pooled in LA streets on Monday
Streets flooded in several parts of Los Angeles on Monday night, with water threatening a homeless encampment at one intersection in Hollywood.
California snowpack at more than double normal levels
A further impact of the relentless atmospheric river storms is that California’s snowpack is building up at a record-setting pace and is already ahead of the all-time record snow season of 1982-83.
Statewide the snowpack across the Sierra Nevada Mountains passed 200 per cent of the normal levels, reaching 215 per cent of the usual amount for this date — a jump of 16 per cent in just one day, Climate Nexus reports.
The Sierra Nevada snowpack works as seasonal water storage for the state, providing approximately one-third of California’s water supply. The state’s dams are managed to capture floodwaters in the rainy season while allowing for space to catch snowmelt in the spring.
Warmer temperatures mean there is a trend toward earlier snowmelt and coupled with the excessive rain, there is a fear that the dual-purpose mission of the region’s dams to control flooding and store water may be upset.
Caution: Big rock!
Malibu Public Safety has warned drivers to beware of potentially dangerous obstructions on roads caused by landslides and rockfalls triggered by the excessive rainfall.
The agency posted photos of a large boulder that had crashed down onto Malibu Canyon Road blocking most of the roadway.
What is an atmospheric river?
Senior climate correspondent Louise Boyle explains.
These weather phenomenon occur globally but are common on the US West Coast
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