With storms continuing to hit California, floods have become a major problem and danger to Californians.
California has suffered 5-7 billion dollars of infrastructure damage. Floodings, snow and atmospheric river storms started at the end of December.
The number of losses has also met with flood insurance for households. According to Axios, about 2% of households in California have flood insurance throughout the state. Therefore, approximately 500 million to 1.5 billion dollars is known to have occurred in losses of flood insurance for all households. The state will cover this cost of flooding to those who were affected by the storm.
The storm brought forth mudslides, atmospheric river storms, heavy rain and snow in parts of the state, especially in the mountains. Some residents had to be evacuated from their homes with power outages being present.
On Jan. 8, Northern California experienced the most damage from the storm. According to NPR, flood warnings were expected in the Bay Area and Central Valley, including in Mendocino, Napa, Marin, Sonoma, Sacramento, Merced and Fresno counties. The Salinas River contributed to causing heavy damages to the farmland in the central valley while Monterey County started evacuations for all county residents.
In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom visited Merced County on Saturday Jan. 7. “The reality is that this is just the eighth of what we anticipate will be nine atmospheric rivers — we’re not done,” Newsom said in a press conference.
From Dec. 26 to Jan. 12, there have been about 19 people killed due to the rain storms in California according to a Columbia University Study article. The article points out that the atmospheric river cycle is not an unusual phenomenon to occur in California.
In fact, according to Upmanu Lall, an engineering professor and director of the Columbia Water Center said, “The floods are due to recurrent waves of atmospheric rivers that typically lead to very high rainfall. These are not unusual for California.”
The phenomenon of El Niño and La Niña — climate patterns of the Pacific Ocean — may play an important role of atmospheric rivers to make land fall according to Professor Lall.
He also explained that atmospheric rivers can arise from warm tropical pacific waters, and therefore, the atmospheric rivers will be born in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean along the West Coast. During the El Niño phase, atmospheric rivers are born in the central/eastern Pacific coast.
In February, the storm was heading out to Southern California. Snow, hail, heavy rain and flooding were present throughout the city of LA.
According to CBS News, this storm is considered one of the strongest phenomena in Southern California’s history. Snow could be seen at less than 1000 feet of elevation throughout L.A. county. Almost 200,000 utility customers were without power while Interstate 5 was shut down because of heavy snow that made it impossible to travel.
About 81 inches of snow was recorded in the North eastern San Gabriel mountains. Southern California was also met with some hail in the Inland area in LA. county. Residents were taken by surprise due to the hail that was falling on their homes.
“There’s already been reports of 2 to 3 feet across some of the higher peaks, and we’re looking at an additional foot, maybe two, of additional snowfall through the rest of the day,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Zach Taylor.
On Feb. 18, all L.A. County beaches were closed due to lightning strikes in the early afternoon. Yosemite National Park was closed from Feb. 18-22 due to the severe weather.