California Hit With Wild Weather


California is undergoing some of the worst weather disasters the state has ever seen.

The oceanside counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Barbara, all of which lie between San Francisco and Los Angeles, have borne the brunt of the impact so far.

Nearly 100,000 people have been put under evacuation orders or warnings in California. More than 220,000 utility customers were without power in the state, according to Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

This is not the first time California has dealt with storms so devastating. In January 1983, multiple storms destroyed buildings along the Southern California coast, and in January 1997, an atmospheric river in Sacramento and the Central Valley caused damages that topped $3 billion.

In central California’s Calaveras county, a tornado with 90 m.p.h. winds uprooted a barn. There have been over 500 reported mudslides across California in the last few weeks. More than 500 landslides occurred across the state since Dec. 30, with piles of dirt and rocks blocking roads and power outages due to fallen trees, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Towering piles of rock and mud reach over 40 feet tall in some locations, blocking access to roadways and leaving residents isolated to the canyon,” the sheriff’s office said.

The state is dealing with flooding and power outages due to the storms. On January 14, President  Biden declared the storms a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement local recovery efforts in affected areas. 41 of the 58 counties have been approved or emergency declarations. It is believed total repairs could reach as much as $1 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

On January 19, President Biden travelled to Northern California to see the damage done and he promised the federal government would assist the state for the recovery effort. Biden said, “While the situation is still treacherous, we are cautiously optimistic that the worst part is behind.”

Jeremy Dube, a junior from Redondo Beach, California, shared the affects of the storms on where he is from.

“There’s been extremely heavy rain and some of the strongest winds the coastline has seen in a long time,” he said. “The waves have been enormous too. Some days waves are 10-12 feet. My parents have sent me pictures and the waves are washing up almost 150 feet further than they usually do.”

Atmospheric rivers, long and narrow bands of water vapor that form over an ocean and flow through the sky, are the cause of the flooding. There have been nine since they started late December, and at least 20 people have died.

After five years of withering drought, California has had a wet fall and early winter. About 18 percent of the state is now free of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. California has received an average of more than 9 inches of rainfall since late December, and some areas have already seen the amount of rain they typically get in the entire year, according to the National Weather Service.

Even with the more than typical amount of rainfall, California is still technically in a drought  due to the past three years being the state’s driest on record. In past years having a wet early winter means a long dry summer, so it seems to mean the state will most likely return to its dry state in a few months.