Pineapple Express floods storm-battered Golden State with 13 INCHES of rain, killing another victim

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The devastating ‘Pineapple Express’ storm continues to batter California, with as much as 13 inches of rain falling in one county Friday, destroying roads and killing a warehouse worker. 

The huge storm first hit the West Coast on Thursday evening, placing 21 counties under a state of emergency while evacuation orders were issued in several coastal counties. 

More than 9,000 California residents were under evacuation orders Friday, California Office of Emergency Services Director Nancy Ward confirmed. There are also 15 shelters open throughout the state.

Ward also stated that two other deaths from previous weeks were confirmed to be caused by this disastrous weather, bringing the confirmed death toll from the storms to 16. 

Recent weeks have seen some of the most destructive weather on the West Coast in decades, with snowpack levels across the state currently 215 percent higher than normal, according to forecaster Snoflo

In Lake Tahoe, where the storm was preceded by the historic blizzard, residents are being quoted $20,000 just to get the snow off their roofs, which would likely be against the state’s price gouging laws, according to the New York Times.

Pineapple Express floods storm-battered Golden State with 13 INCHES of rain, killing another victim

The overflowed Kern River is shown in this screengrab from a video obtained from social media, in Kernville, California

Monterey County was the worst-hit area in the state as it was pummeled with as much as 13 inches of rain on Friday. 

Rain topped the 10 inch mark in Santa Cruz County, where a creek bloated by rain destroyed a portion of Main Street in Soquel – a town of 10,000 people – isolating several neighborhoods. 

Crews were working to remove trees and other debris and find a way for people to cross the creek, county officials said.

There were also flash floods in Kernville, another foothill town in Kern County. Officials said there were no injuries reported or calls for rescue by Friday afternoon but that the river, known to locals as ‘Killer Kern,’ continued to rise. 

The flood was captured on a stunning video that showed it overtaking homes, as officials warned people in Springville that they were facing ‘catastrophic life threatening’ floods.

Evacuations were ordered in nearby Watsonville where creek water spilled over and filled roadways with several feet of water, threatening dozens of homes with flooding. At one home, chickens inside a backyard coop perched on a bar near the roof to avoid the water. 

Morgan Lynn Searcy, 24, lives near the river and said her neighborhood is under an evacuation warning. She has been keeping an eye on the rising waters in case she and her boyfriend need to leave.

‘It was double in size if not triple overnight,’ she said.

The devastating 'Pineapple Express' storm continues to batter California, with as much as 13 inches of rain falling in one county Friday, destroying roads and killing two people, bringing the total dead from the storm to 16

The devastating ‘Pineapple Express’ storm continues to batter California, with as much as 13 inches of rain falling in one county Friday, destroying roads and killing two people, bringing the total dead from the storm to 16

Floodwaters stand inside Jose Garcia's home on College Road in Watsonville

Floodwaters stand inside Jose Garcia’s home on College Road in Watsonville

State Parks swift water technicians Jeremy Paiss and Bryan Kine transport Lizbeth Hernandez to safety after her truck was swept away by flood waters along Paulsen Road in Watsonville

State Parks swift water technicians Jeremy Paiss and Bryan Kine transport Lizbeth Hernandez to safety after her truck was swept away by flood waters along Paulsen Road in Watsonville

Sonoma County Fire's Eric Gromala guides a woman to safety after her vehicle stalled out in deep floodwater on Eastside Road just south of Riverfront Regional Park near Forestville

Sonoma County Fire’s Eric Gromala guides a woman to safety after her vehicle stalled out in deep floodwater on Eastside Road just south of Riverfront Regional Park near Forestville

A road washed away on North Main Street of Santa Cruz during atmospheric river in California

A road washed away on North Main Street of Santa Cruz during atmospheric river in California

A car sits under several inches of water in Watsonville earlier Friday

A car sits under several inches of water in Watsonville earlier Friday

County authorities asked the town’s residents to stay indoors. Heather Wingfield, a teacher who runs a small urban farm with her husband in Soquel, said she and her neighbors were, for the time being, trapped in their homes as Bates Creek rushed through what was once Main Street.

In central California, the Tule River overflowed its banks and flooded several homes. Videos posted on social media showed a handful of homes and cars under a few feet of water and at least one road washed out by the rushing river in Springville, a Tulare County town of about 1,000 people in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada.

Evacuation orders were ordered for other areas of the county, including parts of the small community of Cutler because of a levee break and areas of Exeter because a creek overflowed its banks.

Several public parks nearby, including the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, were closed to visitors due to the ongoing heavy rain.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, flooding blocked portions of several major highways, including Interstate 580 in Oakland, disrupting travel. 

The wet and wild weather comes after California has seen historic snowfall in recent months, with mountainous regions remaining under deep snowpack

The wet and wild weather comes after California has seen historic snowfall in recent months, with mountainous regions remaining under deep snowpack

A homeless person with a blanket soaked in rain walks past a mural depicting Hollywood legends in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles

A homeless person with a blanket soaked in rain walks past a mural depicting Hollywood legends in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles

A snowplow clears a hotel parking lot of new snow at dawn, near snowbanks piled up from previous storms, during another winter storm in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A snowplow clears a hotel parking lot of new snow at dawn, near snowbanks piled up from previous storms, during another winter storm in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Evacuations were ordered in nearby Watsonville where creek water spilled over and filled roadways with several feet of water, threatening dozens of homes with flooding

Evacuations were ordered in nearby Watsonville where creek water spilled over and filled roadways with several feet of water, threatening dozens of homes with flooding

A worker makes emergency repairs to a road that was washed out amid heavy rains. Part of Main Street in Soquel

A worker makes emergency repairs to a road that was washed out amid heavy rains. Part of Main Street in Soquel

There were also flash floods in Kernville, another foothill town in Kern County. Officials said there were no injuries reported or calls for rescue by Friday afternoon but that the river, known to locals as 'Killer Kern,' continued to rise

There were also flash floods in Kernville, another foothill town in Kern County. Officials said there were no injuries reported or calls for rescue by Friday afternoon but that the river, known to locals as ‘Killer Kern,’ continued to rise

Peet’s Coffee, a California-based chain, reported that after a heavy storm, an investigation is underway to determine the cause of a roof collapse that killed a worker –  Martin Gonzalez, 57, who had worked there for 17 years – at a distribution center leased by the company in Oakland at around 3:15 a.m. local time Friday. 

Gonzalez had likely just begun shift only minutes earlier. A female worker received minor injuries, the company said.

‘We don’t know absolutely what happened,’ said spokeswoman Mary O’Connell. ‘Clearly structural failure, but caused by what?’ 

The storm marked the state’s 10th atmospheric river of the winter, storms that have brought enormous amounts of rain and snow to the state and helped lessen the drought conditions that had dragged on for three years. 

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State reservoirs that had dipped to strikingly low levels are now well above the average for this time of year, prompting state officials to release water from dams to assist with flood control and make room for even more rain.

State transportation officials said Friday they removed so much snow from the roadways in February that it would be enough to fill the iconic Rose Bowl 100 times. 

A person walks as snow falls above snowbanks piled up from previous storms during another winter storm in the Sierra Nevada mountains on March 10, 2023 in Mammoth Lakes

A person walks as snow falls above snowbanks piled up from previous storms during another winter storm in the Sierra Nevada mountains on March 10, 2023 in Mammoth Lakes

Nayana Stokes assesses flood damage inside her garage on College Road in Watsonville

Nayana Stokes assesses flood damage inside her garage on College Road in Watsonville

People lay out sandbags to help alleviate the flooding in Watsonville Friday

People lay out sandbags to help alleviate the flooding in Watsonville Friday

Jose Garcia walks outside of his flooded home on College Road

Jose Garcia walks outside of his flooded home on College Road

The storm marked the state's 10th atmospheric river of the winter, storms that have brought enormous amounts of rain and snow to the state and helped lessen the drought conditions that had dragged on for three years

The storm marked the state’s 10th atmospheric river of the winter, storms that have brought enormous amounts of rain and snow to the state and helped lessen the drought conditions that had dragged on for three years

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared emergencies in 34 counties in recent weeks, and the Biden administration approved a presidential disaster declaration for some on Friday morning, a move that will bring more federal assistance into the state

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared emergencies in 34 counties in recent weeks, and the Biden administration approved a presidential disaster declaration for some on Friday morning, a move that will bring more federal assistance into the state

Corky Beall surveys floodwaters on College Road in Watsonville

Corky Beall surveys floodwaters on College Road in Watsonville

Teresa Fuentes becomes emotional after seeing flood damage to belongings at her home

Teresa Fuentes becomes emotional after seeing flood damage to belongings at her home

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared emergencies in 34 counties in recent weeks, and the Biden administration approved a presidential disaster declaration for some on Friday morning, a move that will bring more federal assistance into the state.

Emergency officials have warned people to stay off the roads if they can and to carefully heed flash flood warnings.

The atmospheric river, known as a ‘Pineapple Express’ because it brought warm subtropical moisture across the Pacific from near Hawaii, was melting lower parts of the huge snowpack built in California’s mountains. 

Snow levels in the Sierra Nevada, which provides about a third of the state´s water supply, are more than 180 percent of the April 1 average, when it is historically at its peak.

The snowpack at high elevations is so massive it was expected to be able to absorb the rain, but snow below 4,000 feet could start to melt, potentially contributing to flooding, forecasters said. 

In an aerial view, workers make emergency repairs to a road that was washed out heavy rains

In an aerial view, workers make emergency repairs to a road that was washed out heavy rains

Peet's Coffee, a California-based chain, reported that after a heavy storm, an investigation is underway to determine the cause of a roof collapse (pictured) that killed a worker - Martin Gonzalez, 57, who had worked there for 17 years - at a distribution center leased by the company in Oakland at around 3:15 a.m. local time Friday

Peet’s Coffee, a California-based chain, reported that after a heavy storm, an investigation is underway to determine the cause of a roof collapse (pictured) that killed a worker – Martin Gonzalez, 57, who had worked there for 17 years – at a distribution center leased by the company in Oakland at around 3:15 a.m. local time Friday 

A pedestrian walks with an umbrella as motorists drive through rain along the 110 Freeway in Hollywood

A pedestrian walks with an umbrella as motorists drive through rain along the 110 Freeway in Hollywood

A woman stands on the roof of her fully submerged truck in a pond of water from the Casserly Creek as she awaits the fire department to rescue her in Corralitos

A woman stands on the roof of her fully submerged truck in a pond of water from the Casserly Creek as she awaits the fire department to rescue her in Corralitos

Emergency officials have warned people to stay off the roads if they can and to carefully heed flash flood warnings

Emergency officials have warned people to stay off the roads if they can and to carefully heed flash flood warnings

Lizbeth Hernandez is rescued from Casserly Creek after flood waters carried her truck off of Paulsen Road in Watsonville

Lizbeth Hernandez is rescued from Casserly Creek after flood waters carried her truck off of Paulsen Road in Watsonville

Lake Oroville – one of the most important reservoirs in the state and home to the nation’s tallest dam – has so much water that officials on Friday planned to open the dam’s spillways for the first time since April 2019. The reservoir’s water has risen 180 feet since December 1. 

Of the state´s 17 major reservoirs, seven are still below their historical averages this year.

Despite record rainfall in January, Newsom worried it would stop raining and asked state water regulators to temporarily suspend some environmental rules to let the state take more water out of rivers and streams to store for later. 

But it has rained so much since then that on Thursday regulators rescinded their previous order to allow more water to stay in the rivers.

State water managers were also grappling with the best way to use the storms to help emerge from a severe drought. 

Gonzalez had likely just begun shift at the Peet's Coffee building (pictured) only minutes earlier. A female worker received minor injuries, the company said

Gonzalez had likely just begun shift at the Peet’s Coffee building (pictured) only minutes earlier. A female worker received minor injuries, the company said

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A man rides his bicycle through floodwaters on College Road in Watsonville

A resident crosses a pedestrian bridge over swollen Mission Creek across from the Santa Barbara Train Station

A resident crosses a pedestrian bridge over swollen Mission Creek across from the Santa Barbara Train Station

Teresa Fuentes moves her belongings out of floodwaters at her home

Teresa Fuentes moves her belongings out of floodwaters at her home

On Friday, Newsom signed an executive order making it easier for farmers and water agencies to use floodwater to refill underground aquifers. 

Groundwater provides on average about 41 percent of the state’s supply each year. But many of these underground basins have been overdrawn in recent years.

Forecasters warned that mountain travel could be difficult to impossible during the latest storm. 

At high elevations, the storm was predicted to dump heavy snow, as much as 8 feet over several days.

Yet another atmospheric river is already in the forecast for early next week. State climatologist Michael Anderson said a third appeared to be taking shape over the Pacific and possibly a fourth.

California appeared to be ‘well on its way to a fourth year of drought’ before the early winter series of storms, Anderson said. ‘We´re in a very different condition now,’ he added.

State Parks swift water technicians Jeremy Paiss and Bryan Kine swim to rescue Lizbeth Hernandez, 18, as shivers from the cold standing on the top of her submerged truck in Casserly Creek

State Parks swift water technicians Jeremy Paiss and Bryan Kine swim to rescue Lizbeth Hernandez, 18, as shivers from the cold standing on the top of her submerged truck in Casserly Creek

The Kern river was one of several that have overflowed from the recent storms

The Kern river was one of several that have overflowed from the recent storms

California appeared to be 'well on its way to a fourth year of drought' before the early winter series of storms, Anderson said. 'We´re in a very different condition now,' he added

California appeared to be ‘well on its way to a fourth year of drought’ before the early winter series of storms, Anderson said. ‘We´re in a very different condition now,’ he added

The California National Guard delivers hay to stranded cattle due to snowy weather in Humboldt County

The California National Guard delivers hay to stranded cattle due to snowy weather in Humboldt County

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