SAN FRANCISCO — With rain-soaked California expected to see more stormy weather over the weekend and into next week, Gov. Gavin Newsom, and other state and federal officials pleaded with residents Friday to stay alert to possibly more flooding and damage.
A series of storms has walloped the state since late December, leaving at least 19 people dead. On Friday, 6,000 people were under evacuation orders and another 20,000 households were without power, said Nancy Ward, the director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Homes have flooded, levees breached and topped, and mudslides and hurricane-force winds have slammed parts of the state, including a tornado touchdown in Northern California, she said at a press briefing with Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who was in California to tour damage.
“People will become complacent, but the ground is saturated. It is extremely, extremely dangerous,” Ward said. “And that water can continue to rise well after the storms have passed.”
The ongoing atmospheric river pattern brought showers to Northern California early Friday, and additional surges of moisture, which will be even stronger, are expected to again spread rain and snow elsewhere in the state over the coming days.
California, a state plagued by drought, has averaged more than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rainfall over the past 18 days — a remarkable amount that has seen some locations meet their average annual rainfall already, said David Lawrence, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
A Saturday storm will bring widespread, powerful rainfall and heavy mountain snowfall — with wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) and the possibility of more trees falling and power outages, he said.