LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) — The latest of severe storms hit California Monday, flooding highways, breaching shorelines with massive waves, turning rivers into floodplains and forcing thousands to evacuate in cities with a history of landslides. Doing.
The rain was expected to continue Tuesday after up to 14 inches (35.5 cm) of rain fell in higher regions of central and southern California, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasts indicated that after a brief respite, a new storm would hit the state in a few days, adding to the hardships and over-saturated land already at risk of flooding and torrential rains.
The storms left transportation chaos in their wake, threatening coastal and riverside cities and leaving tens of thousands of people without power. The weather service issued a flood watch for Tuesday for the entire San Francisco Bay Area as well as the Sacramento Valley and Monterey Bay. Areas affected by wildfires in recent years may experience mudslides and debris flows on bare slopes that have not yet recovered a protective layer of vegetation.
“Additional rainfall expected on Tuesday will further increase flooding and maintain the risk of flash flooding and landslides,” the agency said, “especially in areas where recent fires occurred.”
Forecasters also warned that California could experience wind gusts of up to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour at the height of the storm, and rain of up to half an inch (12.7 millimeters) per hour in some areas.
The death toll from a succession of storms that began last week rose from 12 on Monday to 14 on Monday, killing two people, including a homeless man, according to state officials.
California state highway officials said late Monday that parts of the state and federal highway network were closed by flooding, rock or mudslides, heavy snowfall, or damaged cars and trucks. The closures include Federal Highway 101, an important coastal route, and sections of Federal Route 6 and State Route 168.
Evacuation orders have been issued for nearly 32,000 residents living near swollen rivers and streams in Santa Cruz County. The St. Lawrence River was declared in flood state and drone images showed many homes surrounded by muddy water and the top half of cars being tossed out of it.
Most of California remains in severe or extreme drought conditions, although storms have helped fill reservoirs.
Associated Press writers Jenny Haar and Olga R. Rodriguez, Amy Taksin in Orange County, Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Nick Corey in Aptos, Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz and Haven Daly in Felton contributed to this report.