In California, a storm surge left seventeen people dead, a 5 year old child missing

Heavy rains still hit California on Tuesday, December 10. In recent weeks, successive hurricanes have killed seventeen people in this state in the western United States, forcing authorities to order evacuations in many areas.

Torrential rains over the last two days on already waterlogged land have caused severe power outages, multiple flooding, uprooting many trees and cutting off main roads, the floods sometimes washing away motorists.

State Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said in a statement that at least 34,000 people were forced from their homes. “We are not at the end of our troubles. We expect the storm to continue through at least January 18.”Mr Newsom told reporters: “So far, we have seventeen confirmed deaths. I emphasize this tragically because only these deaths have been confirmed. »

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In Paso Robles, a small town between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a 5-year-old boy was swept up in the waves on Monday and is still missing, according to a statement from the sheriff. The flood had trapped the car he was in with his mother, who was rescued by a neighbor. Authorities had to suspend their search Monday afternoon because of the weather.

In Bakersfield, in the center of the state, two motorists died after a tree fell on the road, according to the report Los Angeles Times. As of Tuesday, around 110,000 homes and businesses were without power, according to dedicated website PowerOutage.

“Heaven’s River”

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), America’s meteorological service, after a brief lull late Tuesday night, a new storm is expected to hit California on Wednesday, with up to 180 millimeters of rain expected in the northern part of the state. California is experiencing “endless attack of the atmospheric river”, has not been released since 2005, according to the NWS. These “rivers in the sky,” which form with moisture from the tropics and flow to carry streams down the west coast of the United States, are rare.

North of Los Angeles, near Santa Barbara, the coastal community of Montecito, the celebrity residence where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live, was under an evacuation order on Monday, ending at midday Tuesday.

This enclave, where actress Jennifer Aniston and TV presenter Oprah Winfrey have luxury villas, is a microcosm of the extremes that have been ravaged by California’s drought for two decades. Five years ago, a massive fire destroyed the mountains around Montecito. Result: the absence of vegetation makes it highly susceptible to landslides. In January 2018, landslides caused by heavy rains caused the deaths of twenty-three people.

Serial storm

Other areas have been the subject of evacuation orders from authorities, such as in Santa Cruz County, near San Francisco, where a wharf was destroyed last week. While it is difficult to establish a direct link between these series of storms and climate change, scientists regularly explain that warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Last week’s storms knocked out power to tens of thousands of people, causing massive flooding and triggering landslides. It came just days after heavy rains on New Year’s Eve.

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The extraordinary rainfall of the past few days has already exceeded the average annual rainfall in some areas. However, they will not be enough to replenish California’s water reserves. Several winters with above-normal rainfall are needed to compensate for the drought of recent years, experts say.

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World with AFP

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