Discovery Park in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Updated: Jan. 14, 5:19 p.m.
By CapRadio Staff
The Sacramento Valley — and much of Northern California — has experienced a series of powerful and deadly storm systems over the past month. And it’s not over yet: The National Weather Service is forecasting more strong storm systems will roll through the region in the coming week.
“We expect to see the worst of it in front of us,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Jan. 8.
Emergency officials are urging people to use common sense, such as avoiding travel during the storm — and not to drive through water – and heeding evacuation orders when they arrive.
Incoming storms are expected to bring continued rain, wind and the potential for power outages and flooding through the end of the week, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service. It continues a string of five atmospheric rivers since Dec. 21 in Northern California, including:
CapRadio will be providing updates on the storms here. We also have resources available to help you through the storms:
On Saturday evening, the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services ordered residents of the Wilton area to evacuate immediately, citing imminent threat from flooding.
“Out of an abundance of caution, residents must leave now before roads become impassable,” officials said in a prepared release. “Rising water may spill over onto the nearest roadways and cut off access to leave the area.”
The county released boundaries for the evacuation order:
The county has opened a shelter for evacuees at the Chabolla Center, located at 600 Chabolla Avenue in Galt. Officials recommend calling 311 to find shelter for livestock.
County officials issued an evacuation warning for residents in the Wilton, Rancho Murieta, Herald and Dillard road areas just before 1 p.m. Saturday, citing the potential for flooding. The warning is still in place.
This is the third weekend in a row Wilton residents have been ordered to evacuate. During New Year’s weekend, residents attempting to leave encountered fast-rising water, prompting several rescue operations. At least three people died in the area due to flash flooding.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke in Merced County Saturday afternoon, flanked by local emergency response officials along with local and state elected officials. Merced, and the surrounding area, has seen particularly devastating impacts from continued storm systems moving through California. The city itself has experienced flooding that’s forced entire communities to evacuate, and flood waters are up to 5 feet deep in some areas.
“By some estimates, 22 to 25 trillion gallons of water have fallen over the course of the last 16, 17 days, a stacking of these atmospheric rivers, the likes of which we’ve not experienced in our lifetimes,” Newsom said. “The reality is, this is just the eighth of what we anticipate will be nine atmospheric rivers. We’re not done.”
Newsom acknowledged that people may be starting to feel fatigued by frequent warnings and alerts, but urged all Californians to maintain vigilance, heed warnings and not travel over the next 24 to 48 hours — unless urged to evacuate — as much of the state remains under a flood watch. The series of strong storm systems is responsible for at least 19 deaths statewide, he said.
“For all the focus that is wildfires in the state of California, just consider the last two years, we never had anything like that in terms of civilian deaths,” he said. “These weather events have taken more lives in the last two years of wildfires. That’s how deadly these are.”
He also mentioned his office hopes to see the federal emergency declaration issued Monday be upgraded to a major disaster declaration, which would provide longer-term response, funding and assistance to individuals and families.
“[The President] made it clear that he wants to see that happen,” Newsom said. “I’m looking forward to making that announcement more formally, because that’s my response to the folks out there on cots right now, in terms of what [we’re] going to do for them now that their house has been either destroyed or they’re renters, all their furniture is destroyed.”
Sacramento County issued evacuation warnings for residents of areas near Wilton, Rancho Murieta, Herald and Dillard Road.
“Flooding is likely to occur late tonight,” county officials said in a prepared release sent Saturday afternoon. “Residents should start preparing people, pets and livestock now for evacuation.”
The Wilton area has been put under evacuation warnings and orders multiple times in the past two weeks as levees along the Cosumnes River breached and forced flooding.
At least three people died — two people near Dillard Road near Highway 99, and another person in Galt — after flash flooding swept vehicles during New Year’s weekend.
Heavy rains and flooding from all the atmospheric rivers are taking a toll on Sacramento County’s 5,200 miles of paved roadways — and potholes aren’t the only problem.
Water is one of the major causes of potholes and other road damage. It seeps into cracks in the roadway surface, going down to the base. The hard soil under the base becomes saturated with water, turning it into mud. The road base now has no support and a hole forms in the soil.
“We are noticing that the storms did leave a few potholes in the area,” said Matt Robinson with the Sacramento County Department of Transportation. “We’ve had a couple of road wash outs where the crews have had to go in and put up heavy rocks and rip rock to shore up the roads. So, it’s been a lot of work.”
He says crews are patching potholes in between storms but can’t do more permanent repair work until after rainy weather subsides.
“A lot of these roads in Sacramento County, in the unincorporated area, we’re looking at 40, 50-year-old roads,” he said. “And when we have heavy rainstorms like this with rushing water, the water can do some damage as it goes in and acts kind of like a nail chipping away at it. So, we just have a lot of situations where weather can really wreak havoc.”
Robinson says there’s another storm-related road issue that residents can actually help prevent.
“People are not clearing the drains out in front of their homes so we end up getting localized street flooding, and that can cause damage to the roads as well because the water tends to back up, goes onto the streets and that can cause problems in your own neighborhood,” he said.
Another storm system has returned to Northern California, bringing heavy rain and high winds to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and snow for the Sierra. Emergency officials are urging residents to avoid travel as road conditions are expected to worsen as the storm ramps up in intensity.
In the Sacramento area, winds have toppled trees and branches, which forced Caltrans to close multiple lanes of eastbound Highway 50 from Watt Avenue to Bradshaw Road just before 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. All lanes were reopened around 10 a.m.
Chain controls are required to travel along portions of Highways 50, 80 and 89 in the Sierra, and Caltrans says “icy road conditions” may make travel difficult. Multiple spinouts have been reported along Highway 80 over Donner Summit, and traffic is being held at multiple locations starting at Drum Forebay Road.
Attn: Tahoe-bound travelers on EB I-80. It’s patience time with traffic being held at various locations up the hill starting at Drum due to multiple spinouts. No ETO Here’s a live look at blowing snow & stopped traffic on Donner Summit. @CHPGoldRun @CHP_Truckee @CaltransHQ pic.twitter.com/81LqlnSZGj
Spinouts have also been reported along Highway 50 south of Lake Tahoe, forcing Caltrans to hold traffic in both directions between Echo Summit and Meyers.
The National Weather Service is reporting there are two storm systems that are impacting the West throughout this holiday weekend. These storms will bring “heavy to excessive rainfall,” according to the NWS, as well as flooding, potential mudslides, large snow totals in the mountains, plus heavy and gusting winds.
Two storm systems will impact the West through this weekend with areas of heavy to excessive rainfall, flooding, possible mudslides/landslides, heavy mountain snow, and gusty winds. The leading storm is expected to move over the central U.S. Monday. https://t.co/VyWINDkBnn pic.twitter.com/al174WmiTO
One of these systems is impacting the Central Valley into this evening, with the bulk of the rain falling this afternoon. This includes a flood watch for much of the San Joaquin Valley. Parts of the area under this flood watch have already experienced significant flooding as a result of successive atmospheric rivers, in particular, in Merced County. Governor Gavin Newsom plans to survey some of the damage in this area this afternoon.
Environmental conditions are favorable for heavy rainfall in most of Central California from 9 AM PST this morning until 6 PM PST this evening, which could result in flooding. Pay close attention to the weather and be ready to move to higher ground quickly. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/lRQN9WtrQ9
The National Weather Service has issued another special weather statement for Sacramento, Roseville and Citrus Heights through 10:45 a.m. Saturday, warning of high wind gusts and the potential for hail up to one-half inch in size.
And SMUD outages persist; as of 9:55 a.m. Saturday, the utility’s outage page showed over 26,000 customers were without power. Nearly 12,000 of those customers are in the Sacramento Executive Airport area, and another 12,000 in the North Highlands area.
Another narrow band of heavy rainfall has developed across portions of the southern Sac Valley. Very heavy rain could bring local flooding, along with gusty winds up to 50 mph & half inch hail. This band will impact the greater Sacramento area between 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM# cawx pic.twitter.com/edrxfqYVyA
Wind is picking up in the Sacramento Valley. More than 12,000 SMUD customers were without power as of 9:13 a.m., according to the utility’s outage page.
The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for Sacramento, Elk Grove and Roseville through 10 a.m. Saturday, warning of possible wind gusts up to 50 mph and hail up to one-half inch in size. It urged people in these areas to find shelter in a sturdy structure.
A special weather statement has been issued for Sacramento CA, Elk Grove CA and Roseville CA until 10:00 AM PST pic.twitter.com/dfdG5ro8eL
All Sacramento County Regional Parks are closed Saturday, county officials said, citing the “likely event that the expected 50+ [mph] wind gusts from the … storm system will bring down a large number of trees.”
The closure includes the American River Multi-Use and Dry Creek Parkway trails, and cyclists are encouraged to find alternate routes.
Parks will remain closed until at least Monday, “with the potential to extend depending on weather and park conditions,” county officials said.
In Stockton, city parks have remained closed since Jan. 3 due to the danger of falling trees and branches.
Some California State Parks have closed in response to ongoing storms, including the Auburn State Recreation Area, which will be partially closed “until further notice,” parks officials said.
Sacramento woke up to heavy rain and strong wind Saturday morning as the latest atmospheric river gained strength heading into the rest of the day.
Moderate to locally heavy rain and mountain snow will spread inland this morning. Thunderstorms will be possible today as well. Be sure to STAY WEATHER AWARE!
Never drive through flooded roads, and when thunder roars, go indoors! #CAwx
❄️: https://t.co/WjKBsJmkq2 pic.twitter.com/mwk04Sf5d1
Thunderstorms are possible, and the National Weather is forecasting 1-2 inches of rain in the valley and 2-4 inches in the foothills. A flood advisory for the valley, foothills and much of interior Northern California is in place until 10 p.m. on Saturday, and a wind advisory is in place until 6 p.m. on Saturday.
“I want to really focus your attention on the Saturday through Saturday night storm that will bring widespread, heavy rainfall in some locations, very heavy mountain snowfall as well, in addition to gusty winds, up to 50 to 60 miles per hour,” said David Lawrence with the National Weather Service. “And not only could that rain produce additional flooding, and certainly we’ll see some major impacts to travel in the mountains, but those winds could also blow over trees and bring additional power outages going forward.”
This storm will also bring heavy snow to the Sierra Nevada, with 3-6 feet possible in some areas as well as whiteout conditions, making travel difficult. A winter storm warning is active until 10 p.m. on Monday.
Emergency officials warned residents on Friday to follow warnings from local agencies, avoid walking or driving through standing water, and avoid travel if possible.
California has endured seven storms since late December, forcing evacuations for thousands of residents, cutting power at times to more than half a million homes and businesses, and leaving at least 19 people dead throughout the state.
Rain and snow are likely to continue through Monday night, according to the weather service, before slowing from Tuesday into Wednesday. Another storm is forecasted to hit Wednesday before drier weather returns Friday into next weekend.
Sacramento has already recorded 5.5 inches of rain in January, nearly 2 inches more than is normal for the entire month.
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
The city of Sacramento announced on Friday that residents can continue to fill sandbags at two locations through Jan. 16.
Both locations are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 through Monday, Jan. 16.
Sand and bags will be provided for free. Residents must fill bags on their own as staff will not be available to assist, the city said in a news release.
A maximum of 10 bags will be allowed per vehicle.
Moderate to heavy rain is expected on Friday and Saturday across Northern California, according to the National Weather Service. Another one to two inches of rain could fall in the Sacramento Valley and Sierra foothills, bringing renewed flooding concerns, especially on Saturday, the NWS said.
Sacramento residents are encouraged to call 311 to report storm-related issues. Power outages should be reported to SMUD by calling 1-888-456-SMUD (7683).
Call 911 in the case of an emergency.
3:15 p.m.: State emergency officials ask residents to stay home this holiday weekend if they can
Local, state and federal officials reiterated Friday that despite a break in the weather Thursday, the devastating storms that have pummeled California the past three weeks aren’t done yet and conditions remain dangerous.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Nancy Ward, director of the California Office of Emergency Services. “If you have not been impacted by these storms you could be, at a moment’s notice.”
While many areas saw sun Thursday, a new round of storms moved in Friday and will gather strength Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. That will bring renewed concerns for flooding, high winds and downed trees, and dangerous snow conditions in the Sierra Nevada.
The next round of storms will also make travel throughout the state difficult or dangerous, officials said, including a winter storm warning for the Sierra Nevada until 10 p.m. Monday.
“We’re coming up again on what for some will be a three-day holiday,” said Mike Keever, chief deputy director at Caltrans. “But we do ask you again, if you can avoid travel, please consider staying home, watch some football, enjoy some time with your family.”
Keever and other officials asked that residents follow local evacuation and road closure notices, avoid driving through standing water, and drive slowly if they need to travel.
10:55 a.m.: Sacramento extends weather respite centers through Jan. 18
The city of Sacramento’s weather respite centers will remain open through at least Jan. 18 for unhoused residents and anyone seeking shelter from the ongoing storms, the city announced in a news release.
Here are the city centers, available on a first-come, first-served basis:
Sacramento County has changed the location of some of its respite centers. It is operating these centers as of Jan. 13:
The county also activated its motel voucher weather respite program ahead of the original storm on New Year’s Eve. It is currently sheltering more than 350 people in motels, according to a county news release.
People can use Sacramento RT light rail and buses for free to go to and from any weather-respite location, according to the county. The SacRT light rail station at Watt/I-80 station connects to bus Route 1, which has a stop near the Outreach and Engagement Center. Riders will need to inform SacRT staff that they are going to or leaving the warming center.
SacRT allows animals on leash and in cages. Personal belongings are limited to items people can carry themselves unassisted on one trip.
Northern California is bracing for another atmospheric river, bringing renewed concerns for flooding, downed trees and power outages, and dangerous conditions in the mountains.
The state Department of Water Resources says California has been hit by seven storms since the end of December. Thursday was the first day without measurable rain in Sacramento since Dec. 28.
Rain is expected to pick up in the Sacramento Valley in the late morning to early afternoon Friday, with snow in the Sierra Nevada picking up in the afternoon as the front progresses east. A flood watch is in place from 10 a.m. Saturday until 7 a.m. Sunday, and a winter storm warning starts at 1 p.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Monday in the Sierra Nevada.
“It’ll be a pretty sudden shift back to the wet and unsettled weather after yesterday’s brief break with travel conditions likely to deteriorate quickly over the northern Sierra during the afternoon,” The National Weather Service Sacramento wrote in its morning briefing. “It’s still looking like Saturday’s storm will likely be the most impactful with heavier precipitation, strong winds and thunderstorms.”
Multiple rounds of moderate to heavy rain and mountain snow will bring renewed flooding concerns and dangerous mountain travel impacts over the next few days. Thunderstorms will also be possible today with better chances Saturday. Stay weather aware! #CAwx pic.twitter.com/nHusBTi3ju
With winds expected to gust as high as 36 mph Saturday, crews tried to use Thursday to clean up downed trees, blocked roads and repair damaged power lines.
“Our guys have been going up in our buckets but those really high winds certainly do slow us down,” said Lindsay VanLaningham with SMUD. “They have to wait until the winds die down and then they go up and do their work. So it’s been challenging conditions.”
VanLaningham said around 600,000 SMUD customers have lost power at some point during these storms, with more than 350,000 at one point last weekend. She said SMUD crews have replaced more than 300 power poles, more than double the previous high during storms in 2008.
Fewer than 1,000 SMUD customers were without power Friday morning, with the largest outages still in Fair Oaks, Arden and the Wilton/Herald area. VanLaningham said it’s likely there could be additional outages this weekend.
“With the ground so saturated we certainly do expect more trees to be coming down,” she said. “But we’ve got all hands on deck. We’ve had mutual aid crews. We’ve ordered additional materials throughout the state. So, we’re ready to address those if that happens.”
Another round of storms are expected Sunday into Monday, though with lighter rain than Saturday. It’s expected to stay wet in the valleys at least through next Wednesday, according to the weather service.
By Thursday, over the span of two weeks, Wilton residents had gone through evacuation and shelter in place orders, flooding that temporarily made some properties islands, and winds that knocked down trees.
Megan Weatherford is a third generation Wilton resident. She was a child during Wilton’s flooding in 1997 and said the inundation since New Year’s Eve felt worse.
“Absolute chaos is the best way to say it,” Weatherford said of the past 12 days. “It’s nothing short of a disaster.”
Weatherford and her family, including her husband and three children, built a temporary enclosure for their livestock after fallen trees destroyed their barn. On Thursday, she said she spent about an hour chasing pigs after they escaped from their temporary pen.
While fellow Wilton resident Mike Luna lost power during recent storms, he said he wasn’t worried. Luna, who was born in Wilton and lived in the area most of his life, said he had enough supplies to last. He stayed at home at night, knowing driving during the storm would be dangerous.
“Common sense goes a long way, especially in tough times like this,” Luna said.
Meteorologists say more rain is in the forecast for the region with saturated soils and high water levels. When Sacramento County lifted the evacuation order for Wilton on Tuesday, it cautioned residents to stay alert for future orders related to flooding as storms persist.
The Sacramento region will get a brief break from the excessively wet start to 2023 on Thursday before another strong atmospheric river returns Friday night into Saturday.
“It looks like Sacramento will have a pretty good chance of ending our streak of consecutive days with measurable rain,” the National Weather Service office in Sacramento wrote in its forecast Thursday morning.
According to the weather service, another bomb cyclone is developing off the Pacific coast. At first, it will sit along the coast and in the far northwestern part of California.
“By Friday night, this somewhat stagnant pattern will show signs of breaking down, allowing the next Pacific cyclone to direct yet another surge of atmospheric river toward California by Saturday morning,” the NWS Weather Prediction Center wrote in its morning report.
This system will once again bring high wind and flooding concerns with the already saturated soils and waterways in the region. A winter storm warning is in effect in the Sierra Nevada from 4 p.m. Friday until 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
“At this point, the Saturday system looks to have the most vigor with another round of gusty southerly winds and heavier precipitation,” NWS Sacramento wrote Thursday.
While the forecast is less clear after Tuesday, some models are showing a possible slowdown in rain and snow. The NWS long-range forecast for January 19-25 has most of California at below-average precipitation for this time of year.
Here’s the new 8 to 14 day Precipitation Outlook valid for January 19th – 25th. Leaning drier than normal for the interior NorCal region. #cawx pic.twitter.com/tExzVyNIyb
In the reduced rain Wednesday and forecasted break from precipitation on Thursday, SMUD and PG&E continue to restore power across the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions.
“Because there were so many outages due to the extreme weather, it’s been a challenge to input all those restoration times,” said SMUD public information specialist Gamaliel Ortiz. “Folks whose power is currently out now have updated restoration times, and if anything changes based on conditions, SMUD will reach out.”
There are still 323 active outages in SMUD’s area of service as of 5:04 p.m. Wednesday, affecting 3,505 customers — down from the 350,000 customers who lost power over the weekend. The majority of those customers are in the Arden area, which has over 900 customers still without power; the Carmichael and Wilton areas also have at least 400 customers waiting on outages to be resolved.
As of 4:58 p.m., there are 770 PG&E customers without power in Yolo County and 1,989 PG&E customers without power in San Joaquin County. To check estimated restoration times, you can enter your address at PG&E’s online outage center.
If PG&E is your provider and your power went out for 48 hours or more, you could be eligible for reimbursement. The utility offers automatic Storm Inconvenience Payments between $25-100, depending on the length of your outage.
PG&E has also partnered with Yolo Food Bank to distribute 1,700 $40 grocery gift cards, on top of the 925 already distributed as a response to the New Year’s weekend storms, to Yolo County residents who had to throw away food due to the outage.
“The grocery cards give community members the ability to purchase replacement food or emergency food that meets their dietary needs and cultural preferences,” Yolo Food Bank executive director Karen Banks said in a press release Wednesday.
The gift cards are first-come, first-serve, and will be given to residents in Clarksburg (Walmart), Davis (Nugget Markets), Knights Landing (Raley’s), West Sacramento (Grocery Outlet) and Woodland (Nugget Markets).
For more information, the food bank is asking residents to contact their respective partner agency in each city:
Ortiz said SMUD customers can call the utility’s customer service line at 1-888-456-7683 for more information about reimbursement for spoiled food and lodging credit if they experienced an outage.
CalFresh recipients can be reimbursed with a replacement for their CalFresh benefits if their power went out, but they need to request the reimbursement within 10 days of the food loss.
To get those benefits reimbursed, contact your county’s Department of Human Assistance, who will give you a form called a CF303 that asks for the dates of the outage, how the food was lost and your contact information. You can also print the form and fill it out at home before bringing it to the county.
Tony Cignarale, the deputy commissioner of consumer services at the California Department of Insurance, encouraged people to call the department’s hotline if they’re unsure what their policy covers and want another party aside from their insurance company to walk them through it.
“We would be able to help them navigate through that process and help them understand what their options are,” he said.
The hotline is 800-927-4357.
Cignarale also said people should inform their insurance of the damage and file a claim as soon as possible to start the process of ensuring necessary repairs can be made. Despite the increased volume of claims coming through given storm damage on property, he said, “we expect the insurance industry to have the capacity to handle these claims, and we see no signs at this point that they wouldn’t be able to.”
CapRadio also put together a list of do’s and don’ts for handling a downed tree near you.
Another atmospheric river storm is soaking already saturated parts of Northern California today, while other areas are getting a short reprieve.
Michelle Mead, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sacramento, said Wednesday morning that the Northern Sacramento Valley could see upwards of a half-an-inch to an inch of rain.
“But the Central Sacramento Valley to the Northern San Joaquin, we are going to get a bit of a break, so that is also helping with the flooding situation,” Mead said Wednesday morning.
A flood watch is in effect for the Sacramento region from 10 a.m. Wednesday until noon Thursday. Mead said Thursday and most of Friday will be relatively dry and then another, more powerful system arrives.
National Weather Service
“We are expecting another [atmospheric river],” Mead said. “Not as strong as the one we’re currently at but stronger than what we’re going to see Thursday, Friday. So, it’s going to move in late Friday night and it looks to be heaviest on Saturday and again on Monday.”
Strong winds could also return, with gusts around 30-35 mph possible Saturday and Monday.
While the next system may not be as strong, there are still concerns with the amount of rain the region has seen this month. Sacramento has recorded 9.5 inches in December and 4.8 inches already this month.
“Hoping the two and a half days of a bit of a break we’ll see some receding, but the sponge is full,” Mead said. “The ground has got plenty of moisture and not much area for things to soak in. So continue to be alert to flooding issues.”
A winter weather advisory is also in effect for the Greater Lake Tahoe Area, with snow accumulations of 2 to 5 inches. Up to 10 inches could fall in the higher elevations. Thursday will be partly sunny, but Mead said another more powerful system arrives Friday night.
“We are expecting a lot of folks to be heading up the mountain,” she said. “It is a holiday weekend. So just be alert that there is probably going to be hazardous travel just with the snow and the amount of traffic that will head up.”
Forecasts call for steady rain today and wind gusts as high as 34 mph in Sacramento and then another powerful weather front later this week.
☔ After a break overnight for much of interior #NorCal, light to moderate rain is returning to the region early this morning. Be prepared for a wet and breezy commute. 🌧️ #CAwx pic.twitter.com/Qsismr4oNP
Whiteout conditions overnight into Wednesday closed Interstate 80 at Colfax much of the day Tuesday. Caltrans announced just after midnight that the road was reopened with chain controls.
A flood watch will be in effect from 10 a.m. today through Thursday morning for much of Northern California, meaning flooding could still be possible. Another round of storms will roll in Saturday through Monday, bringing 1-2 inches of rain in the valley and up to 5-7 inches in the foothills, with 2-3 feet of snow possible in the mountains.
State officials say at least 17 people have died in the series of storms that began late last week. A pickup truck driver and a motorcyclist were killed early yesterday in the San Joaquin Valley when a tree that had been struck by lightning fell on them. More than half of California’s 58 counties have been declared disaster areas.
Another 14 counties were added to President Joe Biden’s federal emergency declaration Tuesday for the devastating storms hitting California after some local officials questioned this week why they were left off the original list.
The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and provide equipment and resources. An amendment now makes it possible for Colusa, Glenn, Humboldt, Marin, Orange, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sutter, Tehama, Yolo, and Yuba counties to get federal disaster relief.
On Monday, Rep. Josh Harder said in a statement that it was “unacceptable” San Joaquin County was left off the declaration.
The new counties join El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura.
The resources granted by the declaration can be distributed to counties not on the list, a spokesperson with California’s Office of Emergency Services told CapRadio Monday.
The City of Sacramento estimates that over 1,000 trees have fallen citywide during the powerful storms that have swept the region.
The devastation was particularly apparent in one of Sacramento’s largest parks, William Land Park, where trees and large branches are down in every direction, and where city crews have been working since New Years’ Day.
Fairytale Town, a children’s theme park in the center of Land Park, is estimating they’ve already spent some $25,000 removing trees that are at risk of falling or already have fallen, according to the park’s Executive Director Kevin Fagan-Smith. He added that they expect to spend thousands of dollars more to prepare for additional storms that are forecast to hit the region.
On Tuesday morning, Christiana and her son Caleb Boswell were out walking their three dogs, assessing the damage of the park they’ve been coming to for years as residents of the area.
“One of his favorite climbing trees has fallen,” Christiana said. “We have pictures of him in there when he was like seven, you know, climbing the tree. And it’s gone now.”
In Upper Land Park, Jim Quessenberry stood quietly marveling at the base of the tree while his family posed for photos on the horizontal trunk of a nearby felled oak. He said he’s lived in the Land Park area for five decades.
“It’s crazy. I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen this kind of devastation,” he said. “How do you replace trees that are 100 years old?”
That’s a question that has been on the mind of Fairytale Town’s Fagan-Smith as well.
At the amusement park’s Crooked Mile attraction, a 10-foot stump is all that remains of a once-giant redwood tree. Fagan-Smith said a few days after the New Year’s weekend storm, the tree started to tilt, revealing its roots and cracking the concrete path of the attraction. After removing the bulk of the tree, workers laid down fresh concrete, and Fagan-Smith said they expect the attraction will be open again on Thursday.
In the line of sight of the redwood stump, Fagan-Smith pointed out a giant pine tree that will need to be removed because of its precarious position, threatening a new $3 million dollar building. He said since the New Years storm, the onslaught of damage has just kept coming.
“It’s just continuous cuts every day,” he said. “We think, okay, well, maybe we got through the worst of it and then discover one more tree that’s damaged or, you know, one more thing that we’re going to have to mitigate.”
He said waiting to see what destruction the weather brings has been “uncomfortable” and “kind of terrifying.”
“You do everything you can do,” he said. “But there are some things that are out of your control. And so you just hope for the best, right?”
Fagan-Smith said that Fairytale Town is hopeful their insurance will cover the bulk of the damage, but anticipates there will be some additional “financial pain” incurred.
As for the city, spokesperson Gabby Miller said Sacramento won’t likely know the full extent of the damage until several weeks after the storm system passes. She added that city crews are currently working through a backlog of requests, prioritizing areas where life is threatened and public right of way is blocked.
Kate Wolffe / CapRadio
All Sacramento City Unified School District campuses will be open Wednesday after power was restored on Tuesday to the final five schools still out after this weekend’s storm.
All SCUSD schools were closed Monday after more than 350,000 SMUD customers lost power over the weekend following what the utility called the “most damaging string of storms” in its history. Monday was also the first school day following the district’s winter break, which started Dec. 24.
Classes restarted for most schools on Tuesday, but five schools — John Morse, Pony Express, Rosa Parks, Success Academy and Sutterville — were still without power and remained closed. District officials said power was restored Tuesday, and classes would restart at those schools on Wednesday.
“District staff will continue to monitor the weather conditions and the impact on our schools,” the district wrote in a note to parents. “If anything changes, we will update you promptly.”
SCUSD was one of a number of districts throughout the region to cancel classes over the past few weeks as a string of atmospheric rivers have caused flooding, power outages and damage to buildings. Classes remained canceled Tuesday at the Stockton Unified School District, where officials said weather damage to buildings and the effect of power outages on food supplies could impact safety.
Sacramento County Regional Parks facilities will remain closed through Wednesday, county officials said Tuesday. That includes parks and trails, including the American River Multi-Use and Dry Creek Parkway trails.
Facilities were first closed on Monday, and officials said saturated soil from continued storm systems and high wind will likely “bring down a large number of trees.”
Outreach teams have been working to encourage folks camping along the parkway to seek shelter and other support services. Over the weekend, two unhoused people died in Sacramento County after fallen trees were found on their tents.
Eastbound lanes of Highway 80 were closed in Colfax due to strong winds and “whiteout conditions” over Donner Summit just after 11 a.m. Tuesday, Caltrans officials said.
Westbound lanes were also closed near the Nevada stateline for the same reason.
‼️ ROAD CLOSURE ‼️
I-80 is CLOSED westbound at the Nevada Stateline and eastbound at Colfax due to high winds and whiteout driving conditions. No estimated time of reopening.
*for updates visit: https://t.co/nW388ezCE8 pic.twitter.com/LYryEPHkVX
Caltrans officials say they do not know when the roadway will be back open.
Evacuation orders for the Wilton area have been lifted, Sacramento County officials announced Tuesday.
The order was issued on Sunday evening, after heavy rain prompted flooding in many southern Sacramento County areas.
Over New Year’s weekend, residents attempting to leave the Wilton community encountered fast-rising water, prompting several rescue operations. At least three people died in the area due to flash flooding.
Residents returning home should stay aware of small-scale flooding and possibly hazardous road conditions, as county officials said crews are still working to clear debris and restore power.
Officials also urged residents of the area to submit damage reports to the county. That data gets sent to California’s Office of Emergency Services so it can accurately track damage.
A warning for possible thunderstorms is in place for much of Northern California through 8 p.m. Tuesday, with a potential for severe storms from south Sacramento County through Stockton and Modesto until 8 a.m.
Those thunderstorms will contribute to continued flood risks in the region, with a flood advisory in place until 8 p.m. Tuesday. A wind advisory is also still in place until 1 p.m. Tuesday.
⚠️ A Flood Advisory has been posted for a large portion of the Sacramento Valley, northern San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills until 8 PM. Thunderstorms with heavy rain will lead to areas of roadway flooding and renewed rises on area creeks and streams. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/HIcYwCVJxq
“Thunderstorms with heavy rain will lead to areas of roadway flooding and renewed rises on area creeks and streams,” the weather service wrote in a tweet.
Another round of extreme weather rolled through the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys early Tuesday morning, including warnings of severe thunderstorms and even possible tornadoes.
Around 3:30 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for most of the Sacramento Valley from the city of Sacramento stretching northeast into Citrus Heights and Roseville. There were reports of strong wind, rain and lighting.
The winds contributed to a big rig crashing on the Yolo bypass traveling south on Interstate 5. According to Caltrans, part of the overblown rig was hanging off the side of the bypass, blocking southbound lanes. As of 6 a.m. there is no estimate on when the southbound lanes will reopen.
Southbound I-5 on the Yolo Bypass, lanes blocked by overblown big rig reportedly hanging off the bypass. No ETO. @YoloCountyCA pic.twitter.com/oujtNXgHUy
There was also a tornado warning for parts of Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Calaveras and Tuolumne, starting around the city of Modesto and stretching northeast to Copperopolis. According to the weather service, both severe weather warnings ended around 4:45 a.m.
Across California, more than 220,000 homes and businesses remain without power according to poweroutage.us, including 22,000 in Sacramento County, 11,000 in El Dorado, 5,00 in Placer and 3,000 in Yolo.
The Sacramento City Unified School District will reopen most schools Tuesday, but five campuses without power will stay closed for at least another day.
The five schools that will remain closed are:
“We are in close contact with SMUD and do not have a timeline for the full restoration of power at those five affected campuses,” the district wrote in a communication to families on Monday evening.
Sunday night, district officials announced that all schools would be closed Monday following a weekend where 350,000 SMUD customers were without power following extreme winds of up to 70 mph that downed dozens of trees across the city. At that time, six schools were without power.
Rain will continue to pour over California throughout the week. On Monday, the state Department of Water Resources updated its response and its actions to prevent further flooding.
Water Resources is working on several areas of concern such as Bear Creek in Merced County, the Russian River in Napa and Carmel River in Monterey.
Jerry Arrich with DWR’s flood management said the Cosumnes River near Sacramento is also a concern. Levees on the river have already failed, and around 3,500 residents in Wilton are under evacuation orders.
“We have about five [California Conservation Corps] crews that are out there placing flood-type material on about 4,000 linear feet of levee to protect further erosion due to overtopping,” Arrich said.
Arrich said more support is reaching other counties as well.
“We’ve coordinated the delivery of flood-fight materials and equipment to a total of 13 counties across the state,” he said. “We’ve provided over 180,000 sandbags, six flood fight containers, and then a total of 3,000 linear feet of reinforcing muscle wall.”
DWR Director Karla Nemeth said that in spite of the rain, California reservoirs are only averaging 44% of capacity.
“This really is another climate signal, in that, California is experiencing coincidentally a drought emergency and a flood emergency,” Nemeth said.
On Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service station in Sacramento issued a wind advisory for 4 a.m. and 1 p.m. tomorrow.
A Wind Advisory is in effect for 4 am – 1 pm tomorrow. If you haven’t already, be sure to secure any loose items. It’s always good to prepare for power outages since trees & power lines could fall easier in saturated soils. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/0OZPA2xGfS
These gusts are expected to reach anywhere between 25 and 35 mph, which is less severe than wind speeds recorded on previous nights, which caused extensive damage. On Saturday evening, the weather service reported that their monitors at the Sacramento International Airport recorded winds just over 70 mph.
Courtney Carpenter, a warning coordination meteorologist with the Sacramento station, said that damage can still happen with less severe winds.
“Anything over 30 to 35 miles an hour could potentially be dangerous if you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Carpenter said.
She added that the last couple weeks of rainfall and otherwise stormy weather makes impacted areas more vulnerable.
“All those antecedent conditions can cause more widespread damage than [what] might typically occur at that wind speed,” she said.
The weather service advised residents to “secure any loose items” and prepare for possible power outages.
Around 3,200 to 3,500 people who live in the Wilton area in south Sacramento County remained under evacuation orders because of imminent flooding risk Monday. About a dozen people stayed at an evacuation center in Elk Grove on Sunday night, according to the county, and nonprofits continued supporting evacuees Monday afternoon.
Debbie Schoeneshoefer is on the board of the Elk Grove Homeless Assistance Resource Team. She left the center set up at the Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation on Monday to buy pants for a man inside. Schoeneshoefer said she thinks the man is experiencing homelessness.
“Sometimes their clothes honestly just wear out and he’s handicapped,” Schoeneshoefer said. “He’s basically been laying in his cot with a blanket over him. So, with dignity, he needs to have some clothes.”
The evacuation center is open to anyone who needs it, no matter their circumstances and regardless of if they live in the Wilton area or not, Red Cross spokesman Steve Walsh said. People can come in to take a break from the weather, get a meal and stay overnight if they choose.
Walsh took it as a positive sign that about a dozen people used the center Sunday night. The center has a capacity of about 160 people.
“What that tells me is that most of the people that needed to be evacuated have a safe place to go, which is good news,” Walsh said.
The American Red Cross Gold Country Region is managing the center, county spokesperson Janna Haynes said in an email. Sacramento County is funding it and coordinating logistics, Haynes added. The evacuation center opened Sunday, after the county closed the Wackford Center site, which 40 people used from Dec. 31 through Jan. 8.
The county issued the evacuation order for the Wilton area on Sunday. Sheriff’s deputies knocked on doors and the county sent emergency alerts, but Haynes said the county won’t force people to leave.
“Wilton, they grow [a] tough breed out there and a lot of them will stay in their houses,” Schoeneshoefer said. “They have elevated houses anyway. But I do know, too, that they are on a levee system. So, that can change very, very quickly and very dramatically.”
Rotary District 5180, which covers the greater Sacramento region, planned to send volunteers to help run the Elk Grove evacuation center Monday night. Karen Cendro, district governor for the local Rotary, also said the organization plans to help serve meals at a weather shelter set up at the Hart Senior Center in Sacramento.
Monday’s federal emergency declaration listed 17 California counties as eligible for assistance due to storm impacts. The announcement caused some upset in San Joaquin County, which was not named among those listed.
“It is unacceptable that once again Washington and Sacramento have left San Joaquin County behind,” Rep. Josh Harder said in a statement on Monday. “Our streets are flooded, our schools are closed, and still we’re ignored.”
Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson with the California Office of Emergency Services, said this list was compiled and sent to the federal government on the evening of Jan. 8. It was created with the assistance of information sent over from the National Weather Service that indicated areas that seemed potentially “most at-risk” at the time the request was sent.
Ferguson said that the initial request does not cover all counties that have been impacted by recent storm systems, and is meant to serve as a starting point ahead of future requests.
“We do anticipate, just because of the widespread nature of this event, that we’ll continue to see additional counties added on in the coming days,” he said. “Our guess is that eventually, a pretty wide swath of our state will be under this federal emergency declaration.”
Ferguson said the declaration was made preemptively, before the next wave of the storm occurred overnight. He said the decision was made in order to get resources to affected areas as quickly as possible.
“While this was an initial take on who we thought would be most impacted, the goal is that ultimately wherever the storm hits, wherever the need is, we’re going to try to direct as much aid as possible to those communities,” he said.
The resources granted by the declaration can reach beyond county lines, Ferguson added. While more counties will likely be added to the declaration in coming days, he said that doesn’t stop the state from using emergency funds to help counties that were not listed.
“We now have more resources in the state, we have more financial ability, and we can deploy that wherever it’s needed, regardless of geography,” he said. “Disasters don’t stop at county lines, and neither do we.”
Portions of westbound Highway 80 in North Highlands were closed Monday morning due to flooding.
Caltrans closed all westbound lanes between Longview Drive and Winters Street at around 9:15 a.m. One lane was reopened to let motorists pass at 11:15 a.m., and all lanes were reopened just before 12:25 p.m.
Here’s a live look at traffic backing up on westbound I-80 at the I-80-Business 80 split. Flooding has closed WB I-80 between Longview Dr& Winters St. Use alternate routes. @CHP_Valley @CaltransHQ @SacCountyCA @CHPNSac @RideSacRT pic.twitter.com/wWJzul1mNa
A 61-year old man died in North Highlands on Sunday after being found with a tree on top of his tent, Sacramento County officials announced Monday morning. He was unhoused at the time of his death.
Another woman died Saturday after a tree fell and injured her in the River District. Emergency officials responded to the scene Saturday night and tried to resuscitate her, but she later died at a hospital. County officials said she was also unhoused.
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
On Sunday, President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration due to the series of atmospheric rivers still hitting California, opening up federal resources to assist storm response.
The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and provide equipment and resources. The declaration is for the counties of El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura.
California has been hit with five atmospheric rivers over the past three weeks, fueled by bomb cyclone events off the pacific coast, which are expected to continue through the end of this week. The storms have toppled trees, cut power to more than half a million homes and businesses this weekend, and killed at least 12 people, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Sunday.
A flood advisory is in place for much of Northern and Central California until 6 p.m. Monday as another atmospheric river rolls through the region this morning.
⚠️ A Flood Advisory has been posted for a large portion of the Sacramento Valley, northern San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills until 6 PM. Moderate to heavy rain will lead to rises on area creeks and streams, and areas of roadway flooding. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/uyteGerKvp
That advisory means “a strong probability of urban and small stream flooding from excessive rainfall” according to Chris Hintz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
Monday’s storm is the fifth atmospheric river to hit the state since Dec. 21, which Hintz said is unusual.
“We see typically we get anywhere from 4 to 6 throughout the winter. And we’re seeing that many in a much shorter period of time and as a result, where we’re dealing with flooding issues.”
There is also a high wind warning in effect until 2 p.m. Monday for much of Northern California west of the Sierra Nevada, with wind gusts up to 45-65 mph possible.
Still, winds were not as extreme Sunday night into Monday as they were this weekend, when as many as 350,000 SMUD customers lost power. That number was down to 48,000 as of Monday at 6 a.m.
The wind and rain are expected to make travel difficult throughout Northern California Monday, and emergency officials are asking people to be cautious on the roads and avoid travel if possible. Here are some impacts already happening:
Hintz with the weather service said we’re not in the clear yet, either. Another storm system will hit the region on Tuesday, bringing more rain and possibly thunderstorms.
“More heavy precipitation, although it looks like the brunt of it is probably going to be focused more into central portions of California,” Hintz said.
That will be followed by more possible storms on Wednesday, Thursday and into the weekend, though potentially weaker than the recent atmospheric rivers.
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