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California fears flooding among a myriad of weather disasters

Flooding is only the beginning as the state prepares for mudslides, sinkholes, cyclones and other potential threats

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Cars sit stuck in a flooded underpass at Webster St. and 34th St. that is flooded in Oakland, Calif.

Cars sit stuck in a flooded underpass at Webster St. and 34th St. that has been flooded since this weekend’s storm in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

Salgu Wissmath, San Francisco Chronicle via Associated Press

Wednesday evening, storms in California worsened and residents anticipated severe weather conditions of heavy rains, floods, wind and mudslides.

“The impacts will include widespread flooding, roads washing out, hillside collapsing, trees down (potentially full groves), widespread power outages, immediate disruption to commerce, and the worst of all, likely loss of human life,” the National Weather Service told USA Today. “This is truly a brutal system that we are looking at and needs to be taken seriously.”

Setting the stage for weather catastrophe, California’s problems started months ago in late summer when historic heat contributed to a drought that hit several states in the West, as reported by the Deseret News.

Even though rainfall is expected to calm over the next day, the soil can’t contain all of the water, since this latest storm is the third atmospheric river since Dec. 26, which makes flooding and mudslides a real concern even with little rainfall, NPR reported. Several counties — including Sacramento County — have issued flood warnings and even evacuations.

“What we’re talking about here is a lot of water coming off the top of the hills, coming down into the creeks and streams and as it comes down, it gains momentum and that’s what the initial danger is,” Montecito Fire Department Chief Kevin Taylor told The Associated Press.

CNN reported that winds have reached up to 130 mph — which is categorized as major hurricane wind by the National Hurricane Center — and contributed to the formation of a powerful bomb cyclone on Wednesday evening.

Atmospheric scientist Colin McCarthy called it “the most spectacular-looking and powerful bomb cyclones” he’s ever seen.

The powerful wind left fallen trees and damaged structures in its wake, leaving one family trapped in its home and rescued by the San Francisco Fire Department.

Thursday afternoon and Friday are forecasted to offer a temporary respite from the storm, but it’s not expected to last long, as storms are expected to ramp up over the weekend and into next week, the National Weather Service said on its website.