California's Winter Storm Nightmare Could End Soon

California's Winter Storm Nightmare Could End Soon

A series of atmospheric rivers have left the state dealing with ongoing disaster, from flooding and sinkholes to downed trees and power lines.

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San Francisco Department of Public Works workers clean up a tree that fell on a SF MUNI bus after a storm passed through the area on January 10, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
San Francisco Department of Public Works workers clean up a tree that fell on a SF MUNI bus after a storm passed through the area on January 10, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

California has been slammed by storm after storm since late December, but it looks like the weeks of chaotic weather may finally be over soon.

Experts predict that the back-to-back storms may be ending this week. “We’re finally getting through the parade of storms,” said Michael Anderson, a state climatologist, according to NBC News. “We’re starting to see rivers work through final crests and begin receding.” In a Monday forecast, the National Weather Service said that the rain will likely end for the state this week. Los Angeles’ NWS account tweeted that this may be the “last hurrah of precipitation for a while.”

At latest 19 people have died as a result of the storms, the Los Angeles Times reports. Many of these deaths were a result of the widespread flooding and fallen trees. Residents have seen other dangerous conditions occur after so many days of extreme rainfall. Earlier this month, a large sinkhole in Los Angeles swallowed a car, temporarily trapping two people inside. The mother and daughter were rescued by firefighters. Last week, the National Weather Service issued flood watches for more than 34 million out of the 39 million people living in California. The series of storms also caused power outages for tens of thousands. As of this writing, there are about 20,000 customers in the state without power, according to Power Outage.us.

The series of storms has brought rainfall totals that would have been hard to imagine in the drought-stricken state last year. Counties across California have seen totals at 400% to 600% above average since the storms started a few weeks ago, according to the National Weather Service. This week began with more impressive precipitation. Areas like Modesto and Stockton saw record rainfall for January 16 according to a tweet from Sacramento’s National Weather Service.

It’s a far cry from how dry the state was this past fall. In October 2022 several counties in California were experiencing exceptional drought conditions. As of this week there are no exceptional or extreme drought conditions across the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The whiplash from drought to hazardous stormy weather conditions are yet another symptom of climate change. A 2018 study found that the climate crisis will take naturally occurring weather events like winter storms and periods of drought, and will make those conditions more extreme. Average weather events will become less likely over time.

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Heavy rain in southern California

Heavy rain in southern California

The Los Angeles River flows downstream in Los Angeles Saturday, January. 14, 2023.
The Los Angeles River flows downstream in Los Angeles Saturday, January. 14, 2023.
Photo: Damian Dovarganes (AP)
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Highway turned river

Highway turned river

Water floods part of a road by the San Ysidro creek on Jameson Lane near the closed Highway 101 in Montecito, Calif., January. 10, 2023.
Water floods part of a road by the San Ysidro creek on Jameson Lane near the closed Highway 101 in Montecito, Calif., January. 10, 2023.
Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu (AP)
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Expanding river

Expanding river

People watch the high volume of storm rain water flowing downstream at the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles on Saturday, January. 14, 2023
People watch the high volume of storm rain water flowing downstream at the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles on Saturday, January. 14, 2023
Photo: Damian Dovarganes (AP)
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Sinkholes and rockslides

Sinkholes and rockslides

Montecito’s East Mountain Drive road collapsed due to earlier rain as fresh rain gathers below in Montecito Creek Saturday morning on January 15, 2023.
Montecito’s East Mountain Drive road collapsed due to earlier rain as fresh rain gathers below in Montecito Creek Saturday morning on January 15, 2023.
Photo: Daniel A. Anderson/ZUMA Press Wire (AP)
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Fallen trees

Fallen trees

Hopland Volunteer Fire Department chief Mitch Franklin cuts away a large oak tree that fell on a vehicle, moderately injuring the driver on Old River Road, north of Hopland, Calif., in Mendocino County, Saturday, January. 14, 2023.
Hopland Volunteer Fire Department chief Mitch Franklin cuts away a large oak tree that fell on a vehicle, moderately injuring the driver on Old River Road, north of Hopland, Calif., in Mendocino County, Saturday, January. 14, 2023.
Photo: Kent Porter/The Press Democrat (AP)
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Swollen Los Angeles river

Swollen Los Angeles river

People cross a bridge over a swollen Los Angeles River in Los Angeles on Saturday, January. 14, 2023.
People cross a bridge over a swollen Los Angeles River in Los Angeles on Saturday, January. 14, 2023.
Photo: Damian Dovarganes (AP)
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Driftwood washes ashore

Driftwood washes ashore

 Driftwood storm debris is washed up in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park on January 11, 2023 in Santa Cruz, California.
Driftwood storm debris is washed up in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park on January 11, 2023 in Santa Cruz, California.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)
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Toppled trees everywhere

Toppled trees everywhere

A person bicycles with a dog past a tree which toppled during recent storms on January 11, 2023 in Santa Cruz, California.
A person bicycles with a dog past a tree which toppled during recent storms on January 11, 2023 in Santa Cruz, California.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)
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Tree debris covered bus

Tree debris covered bus

San Francisco Department of Public Works workers cut up a tree that fell on a SF MUNI bus after a storm passed through the area on January 10, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
San Francisco Department of Public Works workers cut up a tree that fell on a SF MUNI bus after a storm passed through the area on January 10, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)
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Destroyed seaside piers

Destroyed seaside piers

People gather near storm debris washed up on the beach, with a storm-damaged pier in the background, on January 10, 2022 in Capitola, California.
People gather near storm debris washed up on the beach, with a storm-damaged pier in the background, on January 10, 2022 in Capitola, California.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)
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Injured and dead wildlife

Injured and dead wildlife

A dead sea lion lies in the sand near storm debris washed up on the beach on January 10, 2022 in Aptos, California. The San Francisco Bay Area and much of Northern California continues to get drenched by powerful atmospheric river events that have brought high winds and flooding rains.
A dead sea lion lies in the sand near storm debris washed up on the beach on January 10, 2022 in Aptos, California. The San Francisco Bay Area and much of Northern California continues to get drenched by powerful atmospheric river events that have brought high winds and flooding rains.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)
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