California deals with surging rivers, sliding rocks, flooded towns as storm passes
Published in Weather News
PAJARO, Calif. — Surging rivers. Sliding rocks. Flooded towns.
The 11th atmospheric river storm of the season left a trail of soggy misery in California as it broke decades-old rainfall records and breached levees this week.
In the Tulare County city of Porterville, residents on both sides of the Tule River were ordered to evacuate Wednesday morning as levels rose at Lake Success, sending water running over the spillway at Schafer Dam.
The runoff “expedited the need for us to get out of the area,” Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said in a video update around 1 a.m., adding that about 100 homes lie between the spillway and Road 284. Emergency shelters are open at the Exeter Veterans Memorial Building, Porterville College Gym and Dinuba Memorial Hall.
Lake Success saw a significant increase in inflows overnight, peaking at nearly 19,800 cubic feet of water rushing in per second Wednesday morning, according to state data. Visalia and Porterville have declared a state of emergency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the devastation across the state was indicative of extreme weather swings driven by climate change.
“You look back at the last few years in this state — it’s been fire to ice, and no warm bath in between,” he said during a news briefing Wednesday in Pajaro, the Monterey County town flooded by a levee breach last week. “If anyone has any doubt about Mother Nature and her fury — if anyone has any doubt about what this is all about in terms of what’s happening to the climate and the changes that we’re experiencing — come to the state of California.”
Storm clouds were beginning to clear Wednesday, though many effects are expected to linger.
More than 150,000 people remained without power statewide, many in the San Francisco Bay Area, where classes were canceled at more than a dozen schools in Cupertino.
In San Clemente, four apartment buildings were evacuated after mud, rocks and debris tumbled down a hillside behind the buildings, the Orange County Fire Authority said. No injuries were reported, but the trail below the properties as well as a portion of Buena Vista along the shore were closed.
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