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Deadly California atmospheric river triggers flood emergency, evacuations amid relentless rain

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Torrential rains and extreme mountain snow hit California at the hands of yet another potent atmospheric river, triggering an “extreme” risk that some regions will be hit with flooding. New snowfall totals have also reached a new high in the highest elevations could reach 100 inches, and ridgetop wind gusts have clocked in at comfortable more than 100 mph.

Torrential rains led to a grim warning of Flash Flood Emergency in the central California towns of Springville and Porterville Friday morning, where spotters reported 1.5 and 3 inches of rain as snow rapidly melted.

Several communities in coastal Santa Cruz County have been evacuated due to rising rivers while mudslides and heavy rains have covered several roads and highways in central California. 

Emergency management officials have also confirmed at least two deaths directly relating to the extreme weather and have said that the threats from hazardous weather will continue as rivers and creeks remain high.

At least 34 counties are under a State of Emergency, which officials say will allow them to priorities resources for the hardest hit areas.

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In the town of Lone Pine near the state’s Great Basin Desert, water has inundated the Southern Inyo Hospital, according to local fire officials.

A tree fell across the front of a car as two people were inside in Redwood City, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Both escaped without serious injury.

Strong winds and saturated ground is leading to power outages in the state. Just over 50,000 customers were without power during the height of the storm, according to PowerOutage.us.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has now issued an “extreme” risk of flash flooding for the southern Sierra Nevada and the Central California coastal range south of Monterey as the latest computer forecast guidance suggests the atmospheric river will be even warmer and wetter than previously forecast. It’s the highest risk NOAA and National Weather Service officials can issue, occurring with only about 4% of storms.

Heavy rain and mountain snow pushed into Northern and Central California on Thursday, with significant rainfall spreading south into Southern California on Friday. 

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The FOX Forecast Center warned that areas of flash flooding are “very likely” to “extreme” in the Sierra and the coastal mountains and foothills by Friday, including the areas of Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Visalia and Fresno.

California’s central and southern coastal regions and valleys could see 2 to 3 inches of rain, with some higher amounts through the weekend.

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