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Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency across multiple counties as a result of massive flooding

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California – A severe winter storm, powered by an atmospheric river, has struck California, resulting in widespread flooding and power outages affecting nearly one million people. The Los Angeles National Weather Service described the event as one of the most extreme weather days in recent history. This storm, known as a Pineapple Express, is the second atmospheric river storm to hit California this week. It coincided with the arrival of celebrities in Los Angeles for the Grammy awards.

Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency across multiple counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

He said: “This is a serious storm with dangerous and potentially life-threatening impacts. Please pay attention to any emergency orders or alerts from local officials.

“California is ready with a record number of emergency assets on the ground to respond to the impacts of this storm.”

Read also: Helicopter crash in Southern California fatal for five people

By Sunday evening, poweroutage.us reported that about 900,000 people were without power throughout the state. Officials also issued a rare alert for hurricane-force winds that could reach up to 92 mph (148 km/h) from the Monterey Peninsula to northern San Luis Obispo County. These conditions have caused trees and power lines to fall, and led to substantial flooding, with more heavy rain expected. Flash flood warnings have been declared for parts of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, as forecasters predicted almost continuous rain for the next 48 hours.

“This has the potential to be a historic storm, severe winds, thunderstorms, and even brief tornadoes,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass told a news conference.

In San Jose, individuals were rescued from a car caught in rising floodwaters and from a homeless camp near an overflowing river. The San Francisco Bay Area experienced winds reaching over 60 mph (96 km/h), with mountain gusts surpassing 80 mph (128 km/h). These strong winds caused significant delays at San Francisco International Airport, leading to numerous flight cancellations and delays on Sunday, as reported by FlightAware.

Santa Barbara County closed its schools on Monday, while the city of Ventura faced dangerous conditions due to high winds and intense rain. Alexis Herrera, whose car was flooded, expressed concern over the flooded roadways, unsure of how to relocate her vehicle.

Read also: Severe winter weather brings snow in California, other states

Alexis Herrera, whose car was filled with floodwater, said: “All the freeways are flooded around here. I don’t know how I’m going to move my car.”

In northern California’s Monterey County, torrential rains forced the cancellation of Pebble Beach’s professional golf tournament’s final round. With continued heavy rain expected on Monday, the PGA Tour concluded the event early, declaring Wyndham Clark the winner. Evacuation directives were issued in areas of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties—regions previously affected by wildfires—to prevent potential mudslides.

“If you have not already left, please gather your family, your pets, your medications and leave immediately,” said LA county supervisor Lindsay Horvath.

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Furthermore, heavy snow was expected to continue falling into Monday across the Sierra Nevada, with warnings for motorists to avoid mountain roads. Palisades Tahoe, a ski resort situated about 200 miles northeast of San Francisco, anticipated record snowfall, possibly up to 2 feet (60 cm). The storm, known as a Pineapple Express, involves an atmospheric river that transports moist tropical air, resulting in significant snow and rain in affected areas. This name is derived from the moisture’s origin near Hawaii.

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