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Southern California Braces for Potentially ‘Life-Threatening and Damaging’ Flooding with Incoming Storm System

February 3, 2024









Officials across Southern California are issuing urgent warnings to residents, urging preparedness for a looming storm system set to unleash heavy rainfall, dangerous waves, and the potential for life-threatening flooding starting this Sunday. This atmospheric river-fueled storm, projected to deliver more than double the rainfall witnessed on Thursday, raises concerns of significant flooding, road closures, and water rescues across the already saturated region.

“This is a potentially dangerous situation, and we are urging everyone to be preparing in advance,” cautions Ariel Cohen, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The advisory includes recommendations such as sandbag placement, alterations to travel plans, multiple weather warning sources, and readiness to evacuate, especially for those in low-lying areas.

While the storm’s path and speed present some uncertainty, Cohen stresses that Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties are expected to be susceptible to life-threatening flooding. The forecast also warns of high winds, heavy snow, mudslides, downed trees, power outages, and potential avalanches.

Meteorologist Ryan Kittell highlights the rarity of the forecasted rainfall, emphasizing its potential impact on the region. From Sunday to Tuesday, projections include over 5 inches in downtown Los Angeles, more than 7 in Pasadena, 9 in Ojai, and 6 in Westlake.

With nearly 94% of the population, approximately 37 million people, at risk for floods, AccuWeather analysis calls for heightened preparedness in already soaked areas expecting an additional 2 or more inches of rain.

Governor Gavin Newsom mobilizes resources, emphasizing the importance of preparation for the upcoming storms. A flood watch blankets a broad area from the northern Sacramento Valley through San Diego, starting late Saturday through early next week.

In anticipation of severe flooding, school closures are announced, with Santa Barbara Unified School District closed on Monday. Santa Barbara City College shifts to remote instruction.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass compares the storm’s potential strength to Tropical Storm Hilary and assures that the city is prepared. Emergency services, swift water rescue vehicles, and increased shelter availability aim to mitigate potential risks.

The storm’s prolonged duration, combined with already saturated grounds from previous storms, heightens the risk of flooding. Besides rain, coastal areas face threats of high surf and large waves, contributing to potential coastal flooding and dangerous rip currents.

The storm’s trajectory indicates it will move through the Bay Area and Central Coast before impacting Southern California. San Francisco and Santa Cruz anticipate significant rainfall, with Big Sur flagged as an area of particular concern.

Statewide deployment of personnel and resources, including firefighters and swift-water rescue teams, underscores the seriousness of the situation. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services pre-positions 2 million sandbags across the state.

As the storm approaches, communities are advised to stay vigilant, sign up for emergency updates, and heed evacuation orders if necessary. The potential for mudslides, debris flows, and coastal flooding emphasizes the importance of residents’ preparedness and adherence to safety guidelines.



Credit: Los Angeles Times

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