Damp and miserable weather continued across large swaths of California on Sunday as the weather phenomenon that caused extensive flooding moved east, though a new storm threatened to bring more rain, snow and gusty winds to the region from of Monday.
The National Weather Service said the upcoming event could exacerbate severe flooding that has hit the area in recent days, including a levee failure that prompted mass evacuations Saturday in farming communities near the central coast of the state.
The next weather event doesn’t seem to be as strong as the last, but experts still warn that “significant flooding” could occur in low-lying areas, either from rain or from rivers and streams flooding from melting snow.
“They definitely need to prepare for more flooding. The soil is very saturated. We are already seeing some impact today from the rains,” said Eleanor Dhuyvetter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
A tornado briefly struck Tuolumne County during strong thunderstorms Saturday that also dumped about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of hail, the weather service office in Sacramento said. Forecasters warned of the possibility of more tornadoes by Sunday afternoon.
Rain and snowfall are expected to extend Monday from central California to Oregon and northern Nevada. Wind gusts of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) are expected in some locations and could damage power lines and break tree limbs.
But the new storm is moving fast, which means it won’t have time to dump as much rain.
More than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow have fallen at a weather station in the Sierra Nevada in the past two days, and more is expected. The amount of snow is currently about double the average and the most in about four decades, according to experts from the UC Berkeley-Central Sierra Snow Lab.
The snowpack stores much-needed water for a state seeking to emerge from a three-year drought. Up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain fell in the Big Sur area of the state over a two-day period, according to weather data.
Officials suggest residents have a plan in case more evacuation orders are issued.
In Monterey County, more than 8,500 people received evacuation orders Saturday, including 1,700 residents — many of them Hispanic farm workers — from the Pajaro community.
The atmospheric phenomenon brings subtropical moisture from Hawaii and the central Pacific, causing snow melt in the mountains of California.
Due to intense flooding, more than 50 people had to be rescued by rescue teams and the California National Guard. A video shows members of the Guard helping the driver to get out of a car, with the waters reaching their waists. The extent of the damage was unknown, but Luis Alejo, director of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, appealed to the state and federal governments for help.
“The needs will be many! It will take our residents months to repair their homes!” Alejo wrote on Twitter on Saturday.