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Atmospheric River Parks Over Southern California, Posing Potentially Deadly Flood Threat for Millions | PicsVideo

*(CNN) — An intense, long-lasting atmospheric river is moving across California — bringing widespread power outages and the potential for mudslides and life-threatening flooding as it dumps heavy rain and snow. Follow our live coverage here. This is what’s happening:

Rare high flood risk persists: A firehose of rain has parked over Southern California, including Los Angeles, worsening the high risk of flooding throughout Monday, with rain lingering into Tuesday. The forecast predicts an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain, with up to 6 inches possible in parts of Southern California, according to the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center. Serious flash and urban flooding are likely to be seen across Los Angeles.

Power outage numbers remain high: Strong winds and rain have knocked out power for more than 400,000 customers in California, particularly along the coast, according to the tracking website The majority of outages are across the northern half of the state where winds gusted as high as 100 mph over the past day.

• At least one fatality reported: A man in Yuba City, about 40 miles north of Sacramento, was killed Sunday by a large redwood tree that fell as winds of nearly 50 mph hit the area. “Through the investigation, it appeared he was possibly using a ladder to try and clear the tree away from his residence when it fell on him,” the Yuba City Police Department said in a statement. The man’s identity has not been released.

• Los Angeles sees wettest day in 20 years: The torrential downpour brought an astonishing 4.1 inches of rain Sunday to downtown Los Angeles, marking the wettest day the city has seen since 5.55 inches of rain fell on December 28, 2004. February is typically the wettest month of the year in Los Angeles, with an average 3.64 inches of rain in total downtown.

Rare rain risk: The Weather Prediction Center issued a rare high risk of excessive rainfall – or a Level 4 of 4 – for more than 14 million people across Southern California on Monday. This includes downtown Los Angeles, Anaheim and Long Beach. In Central and Southern California, widespread rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches are expected – more than a month’s worth of rain for most areas in several days.

Life-threatening landslides and flash flooding expected: An “extremely dangerous situation” is unfolding Monday morning in the Hollywood Hills area – where homes have been evacuated – and around the Santa Monica Mountains, the weather service said. A flash flood warning was issued for the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills, with more rain creating the risk of flooding and mudslides. “Numerous damaging landslides, flooded roadways, submerged vehicles, and flooded creeks and streams are ongoing,” in an area that includes Malibu, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Brentwood and Burbank, the service said.

Officials enforce evacuation orders: Some residents in Santa Barbara, San José, Los Angeles and Ventura County were under evacuation orders issued over the weekend as officials warned of potential “life-threatening” floods and landslides. Officials went door-to-door Sunday giving evacuation warnings in Sun Valley, California, according to CNN affiliate KABC. Authorities evacuated residents near Mission Creek in Santa Barbara as water flooded the streets on Sunday.

Storm hinders travel in the mountains: Significant snowfall is burying parts of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California’s mountain ranges, with heavy snow expected through Tuesday afternoon. Heavy, wet snow will reach pass level for some travelers and pose “very difficult-to-impossible” conditions, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of the Sierras have already recorded more than 2 feet of snow this week, with several more inches coming Tuesday.

California Storms - Goleta (Ethan Swope-AP)
California Storms – Goleta (Ethan Swope-AP)

• Some schools closed: All Malibu schools are closed Monday, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced on X, citing road closures and the inability of some staff to get to schools. Several school districts in Santa Barbara County canceled classes due to the severe weather, and Pepperdine University in Malibu canceled in-person classes. Others schools, including California State University Fullerton, switched to remote learning.

Atmospheric river still slamming California

This strong type of atmospheric river – a long, narrow moisture band that carries saturated air thousands of miles then discharges it like a fire hose – is called a Pineapple Express. It’s carrying moisture buildup from the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and walloping the US and Canadian West coasts with heavy rain and snow, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The strongest winds associated with the system have subsided, but there are still gusts up to 50 mph across the higher elevations of Central and Southern California. Wind advisories are in place across Central California and in Orange and San Diego counties Monday morning.

The atmospheric river impacting California this week follows another recent storm that drenched most of the state, including Los Angeles, with record rainfall. As the state braced for flooded roadways and swollen rivers, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Southern California continued to prep for the prolonged impacts of the storm, which parked as it moved onshore, bringing a much longer duration of rain compared to the last storm. Californians can expect to see the worst of the storm’s impacts and the heightened flood risk through Tuesday, according to the weather service.

In Los Angeles, officials urged residents to stay off the roads and stay home, if possible – even sending a flash flood emergency alert to phones Sunday evening telling people not to travel due to the “dangerous and life-threatening situation.” All lanes of Interstate 5 were flooded in San Fernando in Los Angeles County as of late Sunday evening. A flash flood warning in place for western and central Los Angeles County covers nearly 4 million people.

Further south, weather service reports showed the storm system “has the potential to drop a significant and unusual amount of rainfall on San Diego,” Mayor Todd Gloria said during a news conference Sunday.

Low-lying and flood-prone areas of San Diego were issued an evacuation warning, according to Gloria. The city will likely see somewhere between 2 and 2.5 inches of rain through Tuesday, with some areas potentially getting half an inch of rain per hour, he said.

In Ventura County, the storm’s dangers began taking shape on Sunday after law enforcement reported several flooded roads, submerged vehicles, rock and mudslides and quickly rising river levels, according to the weather service.

“I understand the weariness that comes from these repeated warnings,” Gloria said. “I recognize that fatigue may be settling in, but I can assure you, this decision to issue this warning is not taken lightly.”

“Life-threatening landslides and additional flash flooding” were expected in the Hollywood Hills area and around the Santa Monica Mountains, the weather service said. The areas have received widespread rainfall totals over 5 inches over the past 24 hours, with some spots topping 9 inches, the weather service in Los Angeles said. Both locations are under a “particularly dangerous situation” flash flood warning early Monday as rain continues to fall, with up to 3 additional inches possible.

In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Studio City, two homes were seriously damaged by a debris flow Sunday night, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No one was injured, but nine homes were evacuated, fire officials said.

In a separate alert early Monday morning, the department said at least three homes had been impacted by a debris flow in Encino, though only one was occupied at the time. Two people were evacuated and no injuries were reported, the department added.

Debris flows are “fast-moving landslides” that destroy objects, and can occur during periods of intense rainfall, according to the US Geological Survey.

In San Bernardino County, three people were rescued after becoming stranded in a tree while trying to cross a flooded road in their vehicle, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said on X Monday morning.

The vehicle became submerged in “rapid flood waters” in the Devore Heights neighborhood, the department said in an earlier post.

Two factors making this storm worse

Scientists point to two factors that are increasing the rainfall and destructive power of this week’s storm: the broader climate crisis and El Niño.

On top of the global warming trend and ocean temperatures at record highs, a strong El Niño is present in the Pacific – a phenomenon that can enhance atmospheric river events on the West Coast.

California, which is recovering from a historic megadrought that triggered water restrictions, has seen a deluge of heavy rain and snowstorms since last winter.

These dramatic swings between the two extremes – extreme drought and high precipitation – also known as weather whiplash, is another phenomenon that scientists warn will happen more often on a warming planet in coming decades.

CNN’s Christina Zdanowicz, Tina Burnside, Nouran Salahieh, Allison Chinchar, Caitlin Kaiser, Sara Tonks and Elisa Raffa contributed to this report.

MORE NEWS ON EURWEB: Huge Storm Headed to Los Angeles on Sunday – Mayor Bass Issues An ‘All-hands-on-deck’ Plan | WATCH

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