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Flooding, landslides as the atmospheric river leaves California


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California residents weary of a stormy winter were hit Wednesday by farewell shots from the 11th atmospheric river of the seasonthat flooded roads, caused landslides and toppled trees across the state.

Water pooled on the region’s roads, rocks and mud littered others, and there were reports of potholes that rendered countless cars useless. Flooding closed several miles of Pacific Coast Highway through Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles on the Orange County coast.

More than 168,000 utility customers statewide were without power early Wednesday, according to

California’s newest atmospheric river was one of two storm systems to hit the US this week. Parts of New England and New York dug out of a nor’easter On Wednesday, that caused tens of thousands of power outages, numerous school dropouts and white-out conditions on roads.

Remaining showers in Southern California were expected to ease into Wednesday evening as the storm moved toward parts of the Great Basin. The weather service said California will see light precipitation this weekend, followed by another severe storm next week.

For downtown Los Angeles, the National Weather Service said just under 2 feet (61 cm) of rain has been recorded so far this water year — making it the 14th wettest in more than 140 years of records.

An overnight mudslide on a road in the Baldwin Hills area of ​​Los Angeles County trapped two cars, KNBC-TV reported. Another hill nearby also gave way, threatening the foundation of a hilltop home.

Statewide, about 27,000 people remained under evacuation orders and more than 61,000 received warnings to be ready to evacuate due to weather conditions, according to the California Office of Emergency Services. Emergency shelters provided shelter for 676 people on Tuesday evening.

The weather in the northern and central parts of the state had dried up earlier, after Tuesday’s torrential rain and fierce winds that blew out the windows of a high-rise building in San Francisco and gusts of up to 74 mph (119 kph) at the airport of the city.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued emergency declarations for three more counties on Tuesday, bringing the total to 43 of the state’s 58 counties.

Despite California’s rains easing, flood warnings remain in effect on the central coast of Monterey County’s Salinas and Pajaro Rivers and other Central Valley rivers as water flows away from land saturated by storms since late December .

Runoff from a powerful atmospheric river last week broke a levee on the Pajaro River, prompting evacuations as water flooded farmland and farming communities. Nearly half of those with evacuation orders were in Monterey County.

The first phase of repair of the 120-meter levee breach was completed Tuesday afternoon and crews were working to raise the section to full height, county officials said.

California was deep in drought before an unexpected series of atmospheric rivers rushed into the state from late December to mid-January, causing flooding while a dizzying snowpack formed in the Sierra Nevada.

Storms driven by arctic air followed in February, creating blizzards that buried mountain communities under so much snow that structures began to collapse.

The Sierra snowpack’s water content is now more than 200% of its April 1 average, when it normally peaks, according to the State Department of Water Resources.

Hollywood stars splash down a soaked Los Angeles red carpet at the premiere of ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’, where total rainfall is double the normal average.

The film’s stars – including Zachary Levi, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler – tiptoed across the saturated carpet as they tried in vain to stay dry.

“My feet are wet,” said Zegler. “I’m a bit disappointed, I’m not going to lie.”


AP Photojournalist Krysta Fauria contributed to this report.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.