Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency across Southern California as a brutal winter storm brings record-breaking levels of rain and snowfall.
Eight counties in the southern part of the state, including Los Angeles, are now affected by the emergency order.
In addition to Los Angeles, the declaration impacts other counties including Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
The state of emergency also facilitates the allocation of resources and the deployment of the California National Guard to assist with potential emergencies.
Newsom has reportedly not ruled out the possibility of expanding the emergency declaration to other regions of the state that may be impacted by the storm.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Los Angeles issued flood watches for all areas within the metropolitan region, emphasizing the seriousness of the weather event.
So far more than half a million California residents have experienced power outages due to the severe weather conditions, adding to the challenges posed by the storm.
The conditions include heavy rains, strong winds, and snowfall in some areas.
Nineteen individuals had to be rescued off the coast of Long Beach, California, as the mast of their sailboat broke due to the powerful winds.
One person suffered injuries, and the boat sustained damage but did not sink.
During a press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass described the storm as a “significant weather event” and highlighted its potential to make history.
The Democrat mayor pointed out the expected strong winds, thunderstorms, and the possibility of brief tornadoes associated with the storm.
Residents of several cities in Ventura County were compelled to evacuate their homes as a precaution against potential flooding.
Thousands of individuals remain on alert for flash flood warnings, which could necessitate evacuations, particularly in areas that have previously been affected by wildfires and along the coastal regions from the California-Mexico border to northern San Francisco Bay.
The NWS issued warnings that the storm might set “historic” records for accumulated rainfall, with expected amounts exceeding 15 centimeters.
They also cautioned about the potential for problematic rainfall rates over 3 to 6-hour periods, which could lead to mudslides, debris flow, and rapid water overflows in local rivers and streams.
Additionally, wind warnings have been issued for nearly 30 million people residing in interior areas across the state.
In particular, the foothills and mountains, which are anticipating record snowfall, could experience wind gusts of nearly 150 kilometers per hour.