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California braces for another strong storm as it deals with flooding

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Posted at 11:45 AM, Jan 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-02 12:45:08-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Flood warnings and watches were in effect Monday in parts of Northern California in the aftermath of a powerful “atmospheric river” storm that drenched the state over New Year's weekend.

A new weather system was predicted by afternoon or evening, but the National Weather Service said the rain would be modest until the arrival late Tuesday of another strong atmospheric river, a long plume of Pacific Ocean moisture.

Even with the respite from drenching rains and heavy snowfall, flood warnings and watches remained in effect in the Sacramento County area, where widespread flooding and levee breaches in the agricultural region inundated roads and highways.

Emergency crews rescued motorists on New Year's Eve into Sunday morning. Crews on Sunday found one person dead inside a submerged vehicle near Highway 99, Dan Quiggle, deputy fire chief for operations for Cosumnes Community Service District Fire Department, told The Sacramento Bee.

Sacramento County authorities issued an evacuation order late Sunday for residents of the low-lying community of Point Pleasant near Interstate 5, citing imminent and dangerous flooding. Residents of the nearby communities of Glanville Tract and Franklin Pond were told to prepare to leave before more roadways were cut off by rising water and evacuation becomes impossible.

“It is expected that the flooding from the Cosumnes River and the Mokelumne River is moving southwest toward I-5 and could reach these areas in the middle of the night,” the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services tweeted Sunday afternoon. “Livestock in the affected areas should be moved to higher ground.”

To the north in the state’s capital, crews cleared toppled trees from roads and sidewalks, and at least 6,300 customers still lacked power early Monday, down from more than 150,000 two days earlier, according to a Sacramento Municipal Utility District online map.

State highway workers spent the holiday weekend clearing traffic-stopping heavy snow from major highways through the Sierra Nevada.

Near Lake Tahoe, dozens of drivers were rescued on New Year's Eve along Interstate 80 after cars spun out in the snow during the blizzard, the California Department of Transportation said.

Rainfall in downtown San Francisco hit 5.46 inches (13.87 cm) on New Year's Eve, making it the second-wettest day on record, behind a November 1994 deluge, the National Weather Service said.

In Southern California, several people were rescued after floodwaters inundated cars in San Bernardino and Orange counties. No major injuries were reported.

With no rainfall expected during Monday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, spectators staked out their spots along the city's main boulevard for the 134th edition of the floral spectacle.

The rain was welcomed in drought-parched California. The past three years have been the state's driest on record, but much more precipitation is needed to make a significant difference.