California flood problems grow | CTV News

Watsonville, California –

A levee breach in a storm-swollen river on California’s central coast has quadrupled in size, complicating repairs Monday and draining floodwaters into farmlands and farming communities.

The Pajaro River levee breach has extended to at least 400 feet (120 meters) since it burst late Friday, officials said. More than 8,500 people were forced to evacuate and about 50 people were rescued as water levels rose.

Built in the late 1940s to prevent flooding, the dyke has been known to be dangerous for decades, having breached several times in the 1990s. In January, emergency repairs were made to some of the berms. In 2025, he will begin a $400 million turnaround.

The river separates Santa Cruz and Monterey counties about 110 kilometers (70 miles) south of San Francisco.

Monterey County officials also warned that the Salinas River could cause severe flooding of roads and farmlands, cutting off the Monterey Peninsula from the rest of the county.

Forecasters warned of possible flooding, wind damage and power outages from new atmospheric rivers that arrived in the northern and central parts of the state Monday night and were expected to move south over the next few days.

A massive plume of Pacific moisture stretched all the way to the vicinity of Hawaii.

“Avoid unnecessary travel and complete all preparations as soon as possible,” the San Francisco Bay Area Weather Department said.

California has already been hit by 10 atmospheric rivers this winter, most recently due to systems that hit last week and Arctic air-fueled storms that reached blizzard conditions.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday declared a state of emergency in six more counties, after previously making declarations in 34 counties.

Last week’s atmospheric rivers carried warm subtropical humidity, causing melting at lower elevations in California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack, adding to runoff that inflated rivers and streams.

But the snow cover is so deep and cold that it absorbs most of the rain, resulting in even greater snow cover in the southern and central Sierras, says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. increase.

According to online data from the California Department of Water Resources, on Monday, the Sierra’s snowpack had 207% more moisture than its usual peak on April 1st. In the Southern Sierra, it was 248% of the average.

According to Swain, the incoming atmospheric river isn’t as warm as it used to be because it incorporates cooler air in the back end.

He said the rain would fall on supersaturated soils, if not rivers with extreme atmospheric conditions.

“That’s why I’m more worried about this than the previous one,” he said.

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