Thousands Forced to Evacuate in California After Another Day of Severe Weather

Conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous in California, where residents are dealing with flooding, power outages, and landslides.

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In an aerial view, a resident walks through a flooded neighborhood on January 09, 2023 in Guerneville, California.
In an aerial view, a resident walks through a flooded neighborhood on January 09, 2023 in Guerneville, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Another round of stormy weather has rolled into California overnight and into this morning, creating dangerous conditions for counties along the central coast.

The seaside community of Montecito is under evacuation orders as floodwaters and debris from fallen trees cover the streets, the Associated Press reported. Just up the coast, flooding in San Luis Obispo swept away a 5-year-old boy. Emergency responders had to call off the search for him because conditions were too dangerous for rescue workers, according to the AP.

In Los Angeles, sinkholes swallowed two cars last night. Two passengers who had fallen into one of the sinkholes had to be rescued by the local fire department, CBS News reported. At least 14 people have reportedly died statewide due to the successive winter storms, California Governor Gavin Newsom said.


The National Weather Service issued flood watches for more than 34 million Californians yesterday, which is about 90% of the state’s population. And the stormy weather isn’t over, as several counties are expecting more rainfall and more heavy winds through the end of today.

“Yet another surge of moisture will inundate #California on #Tuesday for more heavy rain and flooding. A moderate threat (level 3 out of 4) for excessive rain and #flooding covers a large chunk of southern California, including the Los Angeles metro area,” the National Weather Service tweeted last night. The persistent rain has transformed the Los Angeles River into a rushing waterway. A little over a year ago, the river was significantly lower and mainly sustained by a stream of treated wastewater, according to Spectrum News.

The extensive damage has made it difficult to keep the lights on as thousands of Californians wake up to another round of power outages today. There are currently more than 198,000 customers without power throughout central and coastal California, according to Santa Clara is one of the most affected counties today, with about 50,000 residents out of 221,900 without power.


Governor Newsom has urged state residents to be “hyper-vigilant” through another week of dangerous weather conditions. “There are still several days of severe winter weather ahead and we need all Californians to be alert and heed the advice of emergency officials,” he said in a statement. Officials have set up 11 shelters throughout California along with “an additional 20 shelters that are prestaged and on standby,” to support vulnerable people who need protection from the storm, according to the governor’s statement.

This is just the latest in a series of multiple storms to slam California since the end of December. The usually arid state has gotten more than 400% above average precipitation since last month, according to the National Weather Service. For two weeks, areas across the state have seen mud and rockslides, downed trees, and damaged power lines. Highways have had to shut down due to widespread flooding and debris.


Some of the conditions in California are due to a combination of the ongoing rain, soaked ground that can’t hold much more water, and 2022’s wildfire seasons. Burned soil cannot absorb as much water as healthy soil. Burn scars also have less living vegetation with roots that can hold on to soil, making erosion more likely.