90% of California Under Flood Watch as Atmospheric River Lashes It

An emergency declaration for the state of California has been authorized by President Joe Biden on Monday as the state has been pounded by storms for more than a week by deadly winter, resulting in flooding, widespread power outages, and even fatalities.

Biden noted that the approved federal assistance will be used to respond to severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides in the country and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the worst-affected areas in California.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be coordinating disaster relief efforts.

Per the National Weather Service, California has been pummeled with heavy rainfall, powerful winds, and massive mountain snowfalls by the most powerful and most extreme in the endless onslaught of potent weather systems with atmospheric rivers Tuesday through Wednesday.

It has forced thousands of Californians to evacuate as it unleashed mudslides and landslides with possible debris flows and widespread flooding and left tens of thousands without power following the deadly storms and caused the closure of schools and roads across California due to the threat of torrential rain, rapid water rises, mudslides, heavy mountain snowfall, and gusty high winds.

On Monday, the NWS issued flood watches for over 34 million Californians – about 90% of the state’s population – as nearly all of the state has received in the past several weeks’ rainfall totals 400% to 600% above average.

Although California Governor Gavin Newsom had already made his own state-level disaster announcement – a presidential decree that frees up additional resources from federal agencies- he had requested a federal emergency declaration over the weekend.

According to Nancy Ward, director of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, some 424,000 Californians were without power and more than 20,000 required evacuation from their homes due to the extreme weather at the time of Newsom’s request.

Since December 31, as Ward noted, at least 12 Californians – or more fatalities than the last two wildfire seasons combined – had been killed in the flooding.

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