Residents in star-studded Montecito, California – including Prince Harry and Meghan, Oprah, and Ellen – have been warned to evacuate as powerful storms continue to batter to the West Coast.
The Golden State saw no relief from drenching rains on Tuesday as roads turned into gushing flood zones, forcing the evacuation of thousands in towns with histories of deadly mudslides.
Rainfall throughout the day was expected to be ‘heavy to excessive’ across the state, especially in southern California, as winds gusts were clocked at more than 40 miles an hour in many places, the National Weather Service said.
The high winds wreaked havoc on the power grid, knocking out electricity to tens of thousands of Californians. More than 220,000 homes and businesses were without electricity on Tuesday morning, according to data from Poweroutage.us.
At least 14 people have died since the storms began last week. A five-year-old boy was swept away in floodwaters on Monday when his mother’s truck got stuck in a creek near Paso Robles. As conditions worsened, the search was called off.
The National Weather Service said the rain was expected to continue through Tuesday after dumping up to 14 inches of rain, and believed to dump as much as seven more inches by Wednesday that could produce widespread flooding, rapid water rises, mudslides and landslides.
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California saw no relief from drenching rains on Tuesday as roads near Watsonville turned into gushing rivers, forcing evacuation of thousands in towns with histories of deadly mudslides
A five-year-old boy has been swept away after his mother’s truck became stranded in floodwater, as the death toll in California’s mega storms climbed to 14. Pictured: Floodwaters are seen flowing through Montecito, California, home to several high-profile celebrities
Water runs down a road in Montecito, California on Monday, January 9, 2023
All of Santa Barbara County was ordered to shelter in place while Montecito – the California town home to Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle – was among those ordered evacuated in the state on Monday, with firefighters warning mudslides could engulf homes
The town of about 9,000 people is a favorite of American entertainment royalty such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Rob Lowe and Larry David. It was expected to get up to eight inches of rain in 24 hours – on hillsides already sodden by weeks of downpours.
Emergency authorities in the town, which lies 90 minutes from Los Angeles, said anyone in the area should get out.
‘LEAVE NOW! This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please pay close attention to emergency alerts,’ a fire department website said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have lived in their $14 million million home in the quiet seaside city since 2020 after stepping back from their royal duties that year.
Harry was in New York City on Monday at the time of the evacuation order for the launch of his new tell-all memoir Spare. It was unclear where Meghan and the couple’s two children are, or whether they have evacuated from the home.
Spokespeople for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are yet to respond to a request for comment from the MailOnline on whether they have been forced to leave.
Jamie McLeod’s property was under the Montecito evacuation order, but she said there was no way for her to ‘get off the mountain’ with a rushing creek on one side and a mudslide on the other.
The 60-year-old owner of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary said one of her employees came to make a weekly food delivery and also became stuck.
McLeod said she feels fortunate because her home sits on high ground and the power is still on. But she tires of the frequent evacuation orders since the massive wildfire followed by the deadly landslide five years ago.
‘It is not easy to relocate,’ McLeod said. ‘I totally love it, except in catastrophe.’
Meanwhile, as authorities ordered about ten thousand residents in the Santa Barbara County community to evacuate, they also confirmed the deaths of 14 people.
The five-year-old boy who was swept away is not included in the rolling death toll, as his fate is currently unknown, according to WION news.
Pictured: A vehicle is seen sunken into the mud after the driver, a Santa Barbara Photojournalist, attempted to evacuate from her home
Pictured: The Suburu Forester is seen sunken into the mud near Santa Barbara
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s California home (pictured) is found in Montecito, which is currently under an evacuation order from authorities
The 101 Freeway is seen flooded out as a result of San Ysidro Creek overflowing due to heavy rainfall in the area on Monday night in Montecito, California
A neighborhood off Holohan Road near Watsonville, California was flooded on Monday
Rescuers were forced to call off the search for the boy who, was swept up in the floodwaters. The search efforts were called off at around 3pm on Monday because the current and rising water levels of the Salinas River in northern California were too dangerous for drivers.
Authorities say the boy’s mother was driving a white truck Monday morning when it became stranded in the floodwaters near Paso Robles.
Bystanders were able to pull the mother out of the truck, Tom Swanson, the assistant chief of CalFire/ the San Luis Obispo Fire Department said. But the boy was carried out of the vehicle and swept downstream.
Firefighters later found one of the boy’s shoes, but crews were still not able to locate the child more than five hours later. But authorities are not yet declaring the boy dead.
Emergency authorities Montecito, which lies 90 minutes from Los Angeles, said anyone in the area should get out.
‘LEAVE NOW! This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please pay close attention to emergency alerts,’ a fire department website said.
Reporters on the ground said police roadblocks had been set up to prevent people from getting into the town, where several roads were flooded.
Experts say the growing frequency and intensity of such storms, interspersed with extreme dry spells, are symptoms of climate change, posing greater challenges to managing California’s precious water supplies while minimizing risks of floods, mudslides and wildfires.
The weather service’s forecast comes after the evacuation of some 25,000 people, including the entire picturesque town Montecito, an affluent coastal enclave 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and nearby areas of the Santa Barbara coast, due to heightened flood and mudslide risks.
The Montecito evacuation zone was among 17 California regions where authorities worry the ongoing torrential downpours could unleash lethal cascades of mud, boulders and other debris in hillsides stripped bare of vegetation by past wildfires.
The torrential rains, along with heavy snow in mountain areas, are the product of yet another ‘atmospheric river’ of dense moisture funneled into California from the tropical Pacific, powered by sprawling low-pressure systems churning offshore.
Montecito, whose multi-million dollar properties are perched in breathtaking California countryside, is particularly vulnerable to mudslides because it sits at the foot of a mountain range that was ravaged by fire five years ago.
Hundreds of square miles of land were scorched in 2017 and 2018, denuding the hillsides of the vegetation that normally keeps soil in place.
In a video on Monday, Ellen DeGeneres braved treacherous conditions outside her in the town to show the ‘unprecedented rain’ the town is being hammered with.
Ellen DeGeneres urged people to ‘be kind to Mother Nature’ as she documented in a video (pictured) how the creek next to her Montecito home was overflowing Monday night
Santa Barbara County residents have been ordered to shelter in place by officials (pictured)
Brown water is seen gushing from gardens and homes in Montecito on Monday
One road in the A-Lister town was completely flooded with rainwater (pictured), acting as a river, as residents were ordered to shelter in place
Pictured: Emergency crews on the scene in Montecito Monday assessing the flooded roads
Wearing just a gray sweatshirt, the comedian showed how a creek next to her home was raging during the powerful storm — blaming it on climate change.
‘The creek next to our home never floods, never,’ she said, revealing: ‘It’s probably about 9 feet up. We need to be nicer to Mother Nature, cause Mother Nature’s not happy with us,’ she continued.
DeGeneres said her home is on high ground so she was allowed to shelter in place. All residents in the larger Santa Barbara County, home to Montecito, were ordered to shelter in place as well.
Monday’s evacuation order came five years to the day after heavy rain had sent torrents of mud into the town, killing 23 people.
‘Over the last 30 days, Montecito has received 12-20+ inches of rain across the community, exceeding our yearly average of 17 inches,’ Montecito Fire said on Twitter on Monday. ‘This cumulative, saturating rain puts the community at greater risk of flooding and debris flow.’
The orders come as the state continues to see damage from a series of atmospheric rivers and storms which have left many trapped in their homes, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced.
On Monday, the death toll from the storm rose to 14 when the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services reported that two more people died from falling trees. One was a homeless person in Sacramento and the other was inside their home.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are two of Montecito’s most notable residents. Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Rob Lowe and Larry David also live in the area
Last week: Prince Harry was spotted in Montecito walking his dog in a torrential rainstorm
Pictured: Prince Harry is spotted in Montecito walking his dog near a beach last week
California remains under a state of emergency, and President Joe Biden has vowed to send emergency services to the area.
Along with Montecito, Toro Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, and Padaro Lane were ordered to leave.
‘Leave now,’ the official Santa Barbara County emergency website states.
All other Santa Barbara County residents are being told to stay where they are for the time being.
‘SHELTER IN PLACE. Flooding, Santa Barbara County impact areas. Go to innermost room or high ground. DO NOT attempt to leave. If already evacuated, remain out of the area,’ a tweet from the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management reads.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the decision to evacuate narly 10.000 people was ‘based on the continuing high rate of rainfall with no indication that that is going to change before nightfall.’
He noted that creeks were overflowing and many roads were flooded.
The orders come five years to the day after 23 people in Montecito were killed in a mudslide, one journalist on Twitter pointed out.
The heavy rain and winds have caused disastrous conditions out on the water in Santa Barbara County. Pictured: Boats are seen on a choppy ocean on January 6 off the coast of California
The orders come five years to the day after 23 people in Montecito were killed in a mudslide, one journalist on Twitter pointed out
This is the second evacuation order for the Southern California area in a week.
Last Wednesday evening, an order was issued for the Alisal, Thomas, and Cave fire burn areas over mudslide concerns. The area continues to be one of two Southern California counties expected to see the heaviest rainfall.
The storms are so severe in some areas school districts canceled classes, including the Sacramento City Unified School District, which had six campuses without electricity completely, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The entrance to the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (pictured) was completely flooded on Monday
Heavy rainfall left Santa Barbara residents trapped inside as they were ordered shelter in place
The National Weather Service warned of a ‘relentless parade of atmospheric rivers’
The National Weather Service warned of a ‘relentless parade of atmospheric rivers’ – storms that are long plumes of moisture stretching out into the Pacific and are capable of dropping staggering amounts of rain and snow.
Two major storms are expected to drop heavy rainfall on the coast and snow in the mountains over the next couple of days.
A swathe of the Golden State was under flood warnings, as it struggled to cope with yet more rain on top of near-record downpours in recent weeks – with even more forecast over the coming days.
‘Two major episodes of heavy rain and heavy mountain snow are expected to impact California in quick succession during the next couple of days in association with two of the more energetic and moisture-laden parade of cyclones that are aiming directly for’ the state, the National Weather Service said.
More rain will follow throughout Tuesday, while the Sierra Nevada mountains could get hit with up to six feet of snow, making for hazardous conditions.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and on Sunday was granted a presidential emergency declaration.
‘We expect to see the worst of it still ahead of us,’ Newsom told reporters at the time.
There were about 224,291 homes were without power in the state as of Tuesday morning.
Biden’s emergency declaration now provides state and local officials with resources and help for counties hit hardest by the storms, which include: El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will also authorize equipment and resources to the state for assistance.
Governor Gavin Newsom thanked President Joe Biden Monday for declaring an emergency in the state, which gives California access to emergency resources
Nearly the entire state is expected to see ‘excessive rainfall’ according to Weather.com
Newsom in a tweet Monday thanked Biden for his ‘swift approval’ of the emergency declaration for the state.
The governor said his office had been in constant contact with the White House and this will help the state get ahead of the incoming storms and subsequent damage.
‘We know what’s coming and anticipating we’re better off getting ahead of it than waiting for the actual event to occur,’ Newsom said.
‘In so many ways, I think it’s a preview of what’s to come,’ the governor continued.
A Sacramento resident crosses the street in front of a tree blocking H Street near 36th Street
A tree collapsed and ripped up the sidewalk damaging a home in Sacramento
President Joe Biden Sunday evening signed an emergency declaration for California
While heavy rain is not unusual for California during the winter, these downpours are testing the state.
They come as much of the western US is more than two decades into a punishing drought that has seen a large increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires.
Scientists say human-caused climate change, brought about by the unchecked burning of fossil fuels, has supercharged these wild swings in weather, making droughts more severe and rainfall more intense when it does occur.
Even the recent heavy rains have not been enough to reverse the drought.
Scientists say several years of above-average rainfall are needed to get reservoirs back to healthy levels.
Damage to a jetty is seen in Capitola Wharf on January 6, 2023 in Capitola, California
Pictured: A man wades through knee deep water in a California neighborhood
Pictured: A man runs from the spray of waves hitting and going over the breakwall of Redondo Beach, CA, Harbor, in the wake of a storm that cleared the south bay community of Los Angeles County, Thursday, January 5, 2023
What is causing the storms in California?
An emergency has been called in California following more than 10 days of storms across the state, claiming the lives of 14 people.
Torrential downpours have caused rivers to overflow, submerged vehicles and caused power outages.
For more than a week now, the state has been facing the brunt of two overlapping weather systems – atmospheric rivers and bomb cyclones, causing an extreme weather phenomena.
What is an atmospheric river?
The torrential downpours are being spurred on by an atmospheric river – an airborne band of moisture that can stretch 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) long and 350 miles (563 kilometres) wide.
The atmospheric river is caused by moisture in the ocean and can move for thousands of miles before its downpour, which can result in severe flooding or landslides.
This particular river is the result of moisture from near Hawaii, formed after warm water evaporated off the Pacific, before it moved to the West Coast.
Once in the air, the river is carried by the wind over mountains before falling as rain or snow.
On Sunday, the National Weather Service warned of a ‘relentless parade of atmospheric rivers’.
The torrential downpours are being spurred on by an atmospheric river – an airborne band of moisture that can stretch 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) long and 350 miles (563 kilometres) wide
What are bomb cyclones?
Bomb cyclones are low pressured storm systems that help move atmospheric rivers, causing extreme weather effects.
They are caused by a mixture of high and low temperatures, causing a rise and fall in air pressure, resulting in harsh storms and strong winds.
It is called a bomb cyclone as meteorologists have linked the sudden drop in pressure to a bomb going off.
Other terms to describe it include ‘explosive cyclogenesis’ and ‘bombogenesis’.