Officials in California are imploring residents to prepare for a powerful storm set to lash the region with torrential rain later this week as the state continues to recover from colossal amounts of snow that trapped mountain communities.
About 16 million people across central and Northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, were under flood watches early Wednesday ahead of a storm set to drench the region Thursday with dangerous amounts of rain in most of the places that currently have existing layers of heavy snow from previous brutal storms.
“The combination of heavy rain and snowmelt may lead to flooding,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “Creeks and streams in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada will be most vulnerable to flooding from rain and snowmelt.”
In response to the ominous forecast, officials in Marin and Monterey counties have begun preparations ahead of the looming storm, which is expected to strike the area as a strong atmospheric river event.
For the Big Sur community in Monterey County, the emergency services office went as far as advising residents and businesses to stock up on essentials that would supply them for at least two weeks. The county has also made sandbags available for residents who need them to protect their property. The Big Sur area, roughly 150 miles south of San Francisco, is one of central California’s renowned tourist attractions with picturesque rugged cliffs, mountains and hidden beaches along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Marin County’s fire department will have staff prepared for rescues in anticipation of possible flooding, county Fire Chief Jason Weber said.
“Our reservoirs are all full from storms earlier this year. With reservoirs full, we expect our creeks will rise more rapidly with most of the rain becoming runoff,” Weber told CNN.
Marin County, where a flood watch is in effect beginning Thursday, is home to one of California’s urban search and rescue task forces, and it will make its resources available for other counties as needed, Weber said.
This week’s severe weather threat comes as much of California has been hit with several back-to-back rounds of heavy snow that made roads impassable for days and knocked out power for thousands of residents as temperatures dropped.
In hard-hit San Bernardino County, where mountain residents have been trapped in their homes, crews conducted dozens of rescues over the weekend, the county’s sheriff’s department said on Facebook. On Monday night, the county continued well-checks and community outreach, the sheriff’s department said. Despite the removal of large amounts of snow, some roads remained closed early Wednesday.