- Written by Ido Vock and Max Mazza
- BBC news
California authorities are carrying out rescue efforts after a deadly winter storm caused landslides and flooding.
The operation comes a day after Los Angeles recorded its wettest day on record. On Monday, the mayor declared a state of emergency.
Roughly six months’ worth of rain is expected to fall in just 24 hours on Monday in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
Storm-driving “atmospheric rivers” are already bringing rain, wind and snow to large areas of California.
The storm has been linked to the death of one man in the Sacramento Valley on Sunday when a tree fell due to strong winds. Another person was killed in a separate incident in Santa Cruz County when a tree fell on a home.
Authorities issued evacuation orders for parts of Southern California’s hilly regions, including Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
“Now more than ever, it’s important to stay safe and stay off the streets,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said Monday in announcing the state of emergency.
“Please leave your home only if absolutely necessary.”
A state of emergency has also been declared by the state governor in eight counties.
Landslides and debris flows have been reported. Sixteen Hollywood Hills residents were forced from their homes on Sunday after a landslide washed over their homes, toppling buildings from their foundations and bursting gas lines.
Witnesses reported seeing refrigerators and pianos floating down the street among the debris.
Damage was also reported in the upscale Bel Air and Beverly Hills areas of Los Angeles.
“It sounded like lightning,” Beverly Glen resident Dave Christensen told KTLA-TV.
“When I went outside to see what was there, I thought I saw a water heater where the house was, but sure enough, it was because the house had slid down the hill and onto the road. did.”
Drivers stranded by floodwaters in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties needed help from rescue workers.
A father, mother and daughter were removed from their car and able to climb a tree to escape rising floodwaters early Monday morning, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
Coastal fire and rescue crews rescued 19 boaters who became stranded on rocks near the Long Beach breakwater after their 50-foot sailboat lost its mast in high winds.
Lifeguards sent rescue swimmers to contact the group, who were taken to a rescue boat, but only one person sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Strong winds of up to 70 mph (112 kph) are also causing power outages and downed trees, but the winds should weaken significantly by Monday night.
This follows what was already a record-setting day for the state. The National Weather Service (NWS) said 4.1 inches (10.4 centimeters) of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, surpassing the previous record of 2.5 inches set in 1927.
The storm disrupted the power grid Monday morning, leaving nearly 500,000 people without power.
Schools in Malibu were also forced to close due to the storm, with some teachers unable to go to school due to flooding and road closures.
Los Angeles police reported several homes and vehicles damaged by debris flows and landslides, and said there was a significant increase in traffic accidents.
The NWS said “very heavy snow” will continue in the Sierra Nevada mountains, making travel “dangerous or impossible.”
Storms are due to the “atmospheric river” effect caused by air currents containing dense moisture.
Atmospheric rivers are a phenomenon in which water evaporates into the air, flows on the wind, and flows through the sky in long streams like rivers flowing over land.
Last week, the first atmospheric river hit California. It was only for a moment that the bad weather continued again.
“This is a severe storm with dangerous and potentially life-threatening impacts,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement declaring a state of emergency for eight counties, including Los Angeles and Orange.
“California stands ready with record numbers of emergency supplies on the ground to respond to the impacts of this storm.”
Two other counties also declared their own states of emergency.