Communities along Central Coast to southern Sierra hit hardest by latest storm

After atmospheric river storms battered large parts of California, triggering massive flooding and prompting widespread evacuation orders from the Central Coast to the southern Sierras, forecasters warned Saturday, “We’re not done yet.”

Flash flood warnings remain in effect for parts of Santa Cruz, Monterey, Tulare and Sonoma counties, according to the National Weather Service. Major flooding was reported in the Springville area of ​​Tulare County — where officials conducted dozens of water rescues Friday morning — and in Kernville, where the roaring Kern River surround some homes and mobile homesencourage evacuations.

The main concern is the risk of afternoon thunderstorms, said Gerald Meadows, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Hanford. The greatest risk, he said, comes from the southern edge of Tulare County and the northern edge of Kern County, all the way north through the San Joaquin Valley.

“We can see wind gusts in excess of 45 miles per hour from any thunderstorm or increased precipitation potential,” Meadows said. “It will only exacerbate any flooding problems that we are already seeing.”

A tenth to a quarter inch of rain is expected in the valley, according to Meadows, with a quarter inch to a half inch of precipitation in the Sierra foothills and higher ground.

In Monterey County, a dam along the Pajaro River — three miles upstream from the town of Pajaro — breached late Friday night, according to Nicholas Pasculli, a county spokesman.

He said patrols noticed boils “bubbling up in adjacent farmland” by 11pm. “That was the first sign that there was a problem,” he said.

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Thirty minutes later the dam failed. “It was a small section at first, but this morning the fracture is about 100 feet wide,” he said.

He said the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with the Watsonville Police Department and the California Highway Patrol, conducted a second round of evacuation notices around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Although they conducted one earlier in the day – at 3pm – many residents had remained in place. “So we went back and made sure we stayed there until we could safely get people in and out of the shelters,” he said.

It will continue to rain, meteorologists have warned.

Although most of the precipitation has fallen in the past 36 hours, Meadows said Saturday morning, “We have another event on the horizon that will occur early next week and will bring a significant amount of precipitation.”

Though it won’t be as much as what’s been moving through Friday, he said, “with slightly higher snow levels or an expected range of snowmelt, we may see as much if not more flooding impact.”

“One of the big messages we want to convey, particularly to the people of the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra foothills, is that while it’s clearing up and it’s not raining very heavily right now, we’re not done yet,” Wiesen said. “The impact will increase and the thunderstorms can change the situation pretty quickly.”


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