Nearly 10,000 Californians were forced to flee their homes after an atmospheric river across the state unleashed widespread flooding and snowfall.
In Santa Cruz County, south of San Francisco, swollen rivers breached their banks, overflowing creeks and blocking several major highways and rural communities.
Authorities in the town of Thorkel urged people to stay indoors as some people were trapped in their homes as floodwaters destroyed the town’s main street.
Heather Winfield, a teacher from the town, said she was stranded at home after nearby Bates Creek rushed through Soquel.
“It was horrible,” she said. “Hopefully no one has a medical emergency.”
She added that her and her neighbors’ water infrastructure had been washed out.
Nearby Watsonville was also under several feet of water, while a broken bank in Springville washed away a road.
The foothill town of Kernville also saw flash flooding, and a river known locally as the “Kern Killer” continued to rise.
A Kernville local claimed the river tripled overnight.
No injuries have been reported so far, but evacuation orders have been issued across central California.
Atmospheric rivers are beds of moisture in the atmosphere that carry moist air from the tropics and dump heavy snow and rain in another area.
They are 375 miles wide and extend more than 1,000 miles, and are often considered an important source of rainfall for the region.
It was the latest atmospheric river to pour rain across the state in recent weeks, as Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for 34 counties and the White House approved a disaster declaration that should provide a financial boost to California. relief.
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Some forecasters said there could also be more trouble in the Sierra Nevada as the snow on the mountains begins to melt, leading to further flooding.
Lake Oroville, a huge reservoir in California and home to the tallest dam in the United States, opened its spillway for the first time in four years because of excess water in it.
State officials hope to use excess rainfall later this year to help deal with California’s inevitable drought.
Governor Newsom signed an executive order in recent days allowing farmers and water agencies to store more water in aquifers.