Northern California flooded after powerful storm brings drenching rain

Flash flood warnings were issued on Sunday in parts of northern California after a powerful storm brought drenching rain and heavy snowfall overnight, snarling traffic and closing highways as the state ushered in the new year.

Residents in the area of Wilton in Sacramento county were urged to seek higher ground by emergency officials amid the threat of “imminent levee failure” on a portion of the local Cosumnes River, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Many roads were under water on Sunday and rivers were above flood level.

A Flash Flood Watch has been issued in coordination with @SacramentoOES for southern Sacramento County for the possibility of downstream flooding along the Cosumnes & Mokelumne Rivers. Listen to orders from local officials, and do not attempt to drive thru flooded roadways! #CAwx

— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) January 1, 2023

And in the high Sierra Nevada, snow accumulated and the National Weather Service in Sacramento warned about hazardous driving conditions and posted photos on Twitter showing traffic on snow-covered mountain passes, where vehicles were required to have chains or four-wheel drive.

Flash flooding continues in central/southern Sacramento County.

Numerous roads are underwater in, around & downstream of Wilton along the Cosumnes River, including CA-99 between Elk Grove & Galt.


— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) January 1, 2023

The so-called atmospheric river storm was pulling in a long and wide plume of moisture from the Pacific Ocean on Friday and Saturday. Flooding and rock slides closed portions of roads across northern California.

Several large boulders fell onto Highway 50 just east of Kyburz during the storm last night. Fortunately no vehicles were hit and we can maintain one lane open in each direction. The boulders will need to be exploded by our team. ⁦@CaltransHQ⁩ ⁦

— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) January 1, 2023

Precipitation was easing as the new year was rung in, but the threat of flooding remained.

Rain and wind is finally tapering off across the Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto region early this morning. However, area creeks and streams are still above flood stage, but are cresting or beginning to recede. Flood dangers are hard to see at night! #CAwx

— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) January 1, 2023

It was the first of several storms expected to roll across California over the next week. The current system is expected to be warmer and wetter, while next week’s storms will be colder, lowering snow levels in the mountains, said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

The Sacramento region could receive a total of four to five inches of rain over the span of the week, Chandler-Cooley said.

The extreme weather came amid the longer-term picture of a historic mega-drought in the area and the wider region, punctuated by devastating wildfires over a prolonged season, that adds up to a climate disaster in the American west.

Meanwhile, almost 300 miles north-west of Sacramento, an earthquake, preliminarily reported at a magnitude of 5.4, hit the area near Rio Dell on Sunday, in Humboldt county.

No injuries were reported but the temblor came weeks after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in the same region on December 20, which killed two people and caused widespread power outages.


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