The U.S. can’t seem to catch a break with the winter weather this year: first, Western New York was hit with a whopping seven feet of snow in a matter of days; now, the entire state of California is experiencing rainstorm after rainstorm, causing flash-flood warnings and possible mudslides up and down the West Coast.
The second week of December issued in a major thunderstorm system, starting in Washington state and Oregon (where it caused two deaths), and then moving down the coast of California into the San Francisco Bay Area and the entire southern California region, where residents encountered flash flooding and widespread power outages. According to The Guardian, rain had been falling as quickly as one-third of an inch per hour.
To make matters worse, two specific areas were stripped bare of foliage by a massive wildfire last year; the lack of plant life in addition to the sudden rains made mudslides a serious concern, and over 100 homeowners received mandatory evacuation orders by the Los Angeles Ventura County sheriff’s office.
As the third week of December began rolling in, it became clear that Mother Nature wasn’t done with California just yet. The first of an estimated three major thunderstorms hit the Bay Area and Sacramento region at the beginning of the week, dumping anywhere between half an inch to two inches of rain, within one day, on the already-waterlogged cities.
According to the LA Times and the National Weather Service, the last — and the weakest — of the storms is expected to hit southern California at the very end of the week. Meteorologist Eric Kurth of the National Weather Service notes that, luckily, none of this week’s storms have been predicted to be as windy or wet as typical winter thunderstorms tend to be in California.
Nevertheless, any additional rain at this point, no matter how little, is likely to cause an even greater risk for mudslides and major flooding, especially for the regions that have experienced continuous storms for the better part of two weeks. And people who don’t live in flood-prone regions (like California) often don’t realize that the initial flooding is just the first of many problems — subsequent cleanup and repairs after storms of this size could end up costing millions.