California rainstorm death toll reaches 20, Biden plans visit


Scripps Institution of Oceanography use a research vehicle with lasers to track beach erosion along San Diego's coast following major winter storms in coastline in San Diego, California, U.S., January 17, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The parade of atmospheric rivers that pummeled California for three weeks finally dissipated on Monday, allowing the state to begin extensive repairs to highways and levees. The White House also announced that Vice President Joe Biden would visit the region to assess the damage.

At least 20 people have been killed by the nine straight rainstorms that have pounded California since December 26, according to an executive order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday to strengthen the state's response to storm damage.

"The residual remnants of the heavy rain in California are gradually dissipating. After midnight, it should no longer be rich, "Meteorologist David Roth of the Weather Prediction Center of the National Weather Service stated.

According to the White House, Biden will travel to the central coast on Thursday to speak with first responders, tour damaged communities, and "assess what additional federal support is needed,"

The president had already declared an emergency on January 8 to release federal aid, and on Saturday, he authorized disaster assistance for Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz counties.

The White House has not yet disclosed the locations that Biden will visit.

Roadway 1, the gorgeous coastal highway in Big Sur, was closed at numerous locations due to mudslides and fallen boulders that littered the road. These images were among the most spectacular depictions of storm damage.

While destructive, the storms helped alleviate a historic drought since a large portion of the state has already received at least half its average annual precipitation.

However, with more than two months remaining in the rainy season, officials continue to urge Californians to save water. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the whole state is still under moderate or severe drought conditions. Officials said that reservoir levels remained below average for this time of year.

In addition, the atmospheric rivers failed to reach the Colorado River basin, a vital water source for southern California.

Michael Anderson, California's state climatologist, told reporters, "If you rely on the Colorado River basin as a part of your water supply, then there will be continuing drought problems due to the extreme drought in that part of the world,"

According to, the two largest reservoirs in Colorado, Lake Mead and Lake Powell were at 28.5% and 22.6% of capacity, respectively, and are still below levels from last year.

Roth said the ninth consecutive atmospheric river dissipated on Monday, leaving its vestiges to soak the southernmost portion of the state, Arizona, and northern Mexico.

Storms are comparable to rivers in the sky, transporting moisture from the tropics to higher latitudes and dumping vast amounts of rain.

Another storm might deliver moderate precipitation on Tuesday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service of the United States stated that it lacked the volume to be recognized as an air river. In contrast, the state Department of Water Resources said that it might momentarily qualify.

State officials anticipate dry conditions for the remainder of January in California.

Publish : 2023-01-18 10:20:00

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