38 Million Americans Facing ‘Extreme’ Risk Of Flash Flooding In California

(Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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California is facing an “extreme” risk of flash flooding in March as warmer weather starts to melt record-breaking snowfall levels and an atmospheric river strikes Friday.

The Golden State has faced back-to-back extreme weather events since the end of 2022, including record-breaking snowfall, blizzards in Los Angeles and massive flooding damage. Residents were warned Wednesday to prepare for the latest storm system, an atmospheric river that made landfall late Thursday night, the National Weather Service stated.

By 8:00 a.m. Friday, streams in San Luis Obispo County were already reaching concerning levels due to the heavy rainfall from the atmospheric river, NWS reported.

“A dangerous excessive rainfall event is underway across much of Central California. Areal rainfall totals of 4-9 inches through today, atop areas with saturated soil and deep snowpack will cause widespread and severe flooding impacts, particularly in the High Risk (pink) area,” NWS continued, sharing a graphic of the impacted areas.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom updated the state of emergency Wednesday in anticipation of more than 38 million residents being at risk from the extreme weather events. NWS noted that “extreme” excessive rainfall warnings are only issued for 4% of storm systems and previous systems of this size have averaged almost four deaths per day, along with millions in damage to infrastructure.

The secondary atmospheric river weather system is forecast to make landfall by mid-March, bringing even more heavy rain and heavy snowfall. Residents have been told to pay close attention to road conditions due to risk of flash flooding. (RELATED: Intense Video Shows Farmland Destruction As Salinas River Bursts Its Banks)

Flash flooding causes many preventable deaths each year. Most deaths are caused by people making “poor choices while driving,” NWS noted. It’s currently unclear how the higher-than-average snowpacks through California’s mountainous regions will cause ongoing threats of flash flooding from meltwaters.