Eight dead after flooding and mudslides force thousands to flee in California
ABC News(MONTECITO, Calif.) — At least eight people are dead in California from weather-related incidents, officials said Tuesday. The southern part of the state has been hit with severe rain just weeks after several fires tore through the area.
Flash flooding, debris flow and mudslides are punishing the communities hit hard by the Thomas and La Tuna fires.
The Claffey family in Carpinteria was forced to evacuate its home last month. After moving back in, family members were told to evacuate again because of the rain.
“If our house was flooded it would be devastating. Absolutely devastating,” Maureen Claffey told ABC News.
The record rains started coming down on Monday, soaking northern cities like San Francisco and Sacramento.
Because hundreds of thousands of acres were charred in the fires, the influx of water has nowhere to go.
In the affluent community of Montecito, some homes have been ripped from their foundations as a result of the torrential conditions.
Local fire officials reported rescuing several people in the area including a mother and her daughter who were caked in mud.
Power has also been cut there, according to ABC News affiliate KEYT-TV.
More rescues were expected and evacuations continue to rise, the officials said.
In Los Angeles, the storm is being caused by a cold front and a squall line with lightning that has gathered strength and is expected to keep soaking the area.
The worst of the storm will move inland, with the heavy rain letting up sometime around dinner time or even before.
So far, rainfall totals Tuesday morning and early afternoon range from 2 to 4 inches in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties.
The weather has snarled drivers attempting to commute on some major roads.
Traffic on the 101 Freeway around Ventura and Santa Barbara counties was stalling civilian vehicles, and some local California Highway Patrol units.
As a precautionary measure, the agency has stopped most traffic on the freeway going through Santa Barbara after excessive flooding and debris made some parts impassable.
Some of the stranded drivers caught up in the rising water levels were being plucked from their vehicles to safer, dryer ground by emergency personnel.
And in creeks and other waterways the treacherous floodwaters were moving at around 15 miles per hour.
In Montecito, one woman’s home was a muddy disaster, according to a social media post.
An additional 1 to 2 feet of snow is expected in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Moving into the Plains
The storm system moves into the Great Plains on Wednesday and Thursday with winter storm watches and warnings already issued from Colorado to Wisconsin.
Locally, 6 to 12 inches are possible and this could be the biggest snowstorm of the season for places like the Twin Cities.
South of the storm, mild air will bring a chance for a thunderstorm with lightning from Memphis to St. Louis.
January thaw in the East
Further east, a thawing has begun.
It’s about 20 to 30 degrees warmer from Chicago to New York City than it was this past weekend as temperatures rise.
By Thursday, Chicago and Cleveland will be approaching 50 degrees for the first time since the middle of December.
New York City and Boston will be in the 50s by Friday. These temperatures will be 15 to 20 degrees above normal.
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