Part of Los Angeles could see record rainfall as flood alerts span almost all of California

Part of Los Angeles could see record rainfall as flood alerts span almost all of California

Nearly the entire population of California is under flood alerts Tuesday as the latest round of rainfall soaks the state, prompting road closures, evacuation warnings and some water rescues. In Los Angeles, which faces significant flood threats, part of the city is close to seeing its wettest February ever recorded.

• Over 35 million people under flood alerts: Rain continues to drench much of California on Tuesday, with the heaviest downpours focused on Los Angeles and coastal Southern California. Flood watches in place across parts of Northern California will expire Tuesday morning, but the bulk of the state’s flood alerts last through Wednesday.

• Los Angeles eyes record rainfall: After historic rainfall inundated the city earlier this month, downtown Los Angeles could see its wettest February on record if it picks up 3 inches of rain this week. An additional 1.5 to 3 inches are expected to fall across Los Angeles County, posing a risk of “significant flooding,” the National Weather Service said. Emergency crews are poised to respond in case of power outages, mud and debris flows and blocked roadways, the city said Monday night.

• Flooding shuts down airport and roads: Significant flooding on the tarmac of the Santa Barbara Airport forced it to close until the water can recede, the airport said Monday evening. Several roads across the state are also shut down due to flooding and weather-related conditions, according to the state transportation department.

• Evacuation warnings issued: Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Santa Barbara County, where some high-elevation areas have seen as much as 9 inches of rain in 24 hours. Local officials warned that homes could become isolated if roads become blocked by flooding or debris and urged people to evacuate if they are concerned their area is becoming unsafe. An evacuation warning was also issued for a portion of southwestern Los Angeles County over mud and debris flow fears, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Strong winds threaten power outages: Swathes of Californians could be without power as gusty winds threaten to down trees and power lines. More than 10 million people are under winds alerts Tuesday, when widespread gusts of up to 50 mph are expected with some reaching as high as 65 mph.

• Heavy snow building in Sierra Nevada: Winter weather alerts span the Sierra Nevada as snow blankets the region. Up to 5 feet of snow could accumulate in some areas by Wednesday night, though widespread amounts of 1-2 feet are expected across high-elevation areas.

Soaked state battles flooding, mudslides
As rain continues to pelt a vast portion of California Tuesday, saturated grounds and swelling waterways are struggling to take in the influx of water, causing runoff to gush over local roads, soften soil for mudslides and cause widespread concern of flooding.

The downpours will become more isolated on Tuesday as the atmospheric river fueling the storms weakens, but some areas still face a considerable flood threat, including Los Angeles, which faces a Level 3 of 4 flood risk on Tuesday. A slight risk of excessive rainfall covers many major cities, including San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Sacramento, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

Significant flooding is possible in Los Angeles, where another 1.5 to 3 inches of rain are expected – with 3 to 5 inches in isolated areas of the Santa Monica mountains, the National Weather Service said.

People in southwest California should be cautious of large mud and rock slides along canyon roads as well as debris flows in areas recently burned by wildfires, the forecast office in Los Angeles warned.

Two people were safely removed from a flooded vehicle in San Luis Obispo County Monday morning, according to fire officials. A photo from the scene showed a vehicle submerged to the hood in rushing floodwaters.

In Ventura County, which was under a flash flood warning Monday, fire personnel scrambled to redirect floodwaters and prevent damage to nearby homes. Video from the county fire department showed a wide sheet of murky water rushing down one local street and into a muddy roadside channel being maintained by fire crews.

The Bay Area is also under a flood watch until Wednesday morning, the weather service said. That includes San Francisco, where officials are providing some residents and businesses with 10 free sandbags.

“Several of our streams and creeks are running high. … Never drive into flood waters,” the National Weather Service in the Bay Area said, noting Sonoma County is especially hard-hit. Sonoma County fire officials captured video of riverlike floodwaters running across a fully-submerged road.

Both this week’s storm and the prolific early February storm were fueled by atmospheric rivers. But the ongoing storm has not been as extreme because it is tapping into much less moisture than the early-month storm.

Rounds of rain will finally come to an end in California by late Wednesday as the main storm driving the soaking weather pushes eastward, crossing into the Rockies.