California put on flood alert as storms cause widespread power outages

A US National Weather Service (NWS) alert over the weekend has warned that the cumulative effect of successive heavy rain storms since late December could bring rivers to record high levels and cause flooding across much of Central California.

The warning comes as torrential downpours and damaging winds left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power in the state late on Sunday (8 January) as the area braced for the next onslaught of severe weather.

The current bout of heavy showers and gale-force winds swept into the north-western corner of California late on Friday and spread southward into the San Francisco Bay Area and central coast on Saturday afternoon and lingered on Sunday, said David Roth, a meteorologist from the NWS’s Weather Prediction Center.

However, more severe weather is expected: another in the back-to-back parade of storm systems will hit on Monday and last through the middle of next week at least, affecting Los Angeles, Sacramento, up through the San Francisco Bay Area and toward Oregon.

“It’s going to get worse Monday,” Roth said, “We’re talking 3-to-6 inches (7.5 cm-15 cm) of rain, several feet of snow in the mountains … because the area is so saturated we could see flash floods, mudslides, rockslides and avalanches.”

More than 330,000 homes and businesses were reported to be still without power in California as of 3:08 ET (8:08 GMT) on Sunday night, according to data from PowerOutage.us.

At least six people have died in the severe weather since New Year’s weekend, including a toddler killed by a fallen redwood tree crushing a mobile home in northern California.

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