Livia Albeck-Ripka

Flood warnings and other severe weather warnings went into effect statewide early Wednesday, a day after “atmospheric rivers” dumped more rainfall onto the water-saturated landscape.

LOS ANGELES — Millions of California residents were under extreme weather warnings Wednesday morning, after bouts of high winds and heavy rainfall disrupted power supplies and forced evacuations and road closures.

Parts of California remain under a winter storm or flood warning at 12:30 p.m. according to the National Weather Service, although the geographic scope of the appeal has tapered off overnight. The rain is falling in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where weather forecasters are located the rainfall is expected to increase before the gradual reduction on Wednesday. A flood watch was in place into the afternoon for a wider swath of Southern California that includes Orange County and the San Bernardino Mountains.

On Tuesday, high winds in San Francisco forced the city's international airport to briefly stop operations and blew out the windows of a downtown skyscraper. No one was hurt when the window fell to the ground, city fire department said. Most of the roughly 200,000 electricity customers without power in California as of Wednesday morning were in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to tracking websites. poweroutage. us.

South of San Francisco, water from the Pajaro River in Monterey County breached levees on Tuesday, forcing the partial closure of Highway 1 in and around the Big Sur area until officials can clear downed trees and power lines and assess the bridge's safety.

Pajaro is the latest California community to suffer a levee breach in a season when “atmospheric river” storms have dumped rainfall onto an already water-saturated landscape, testing the river walls that protect millions of residents from disaster.

The latest storm is expected to cause more flooding as it spreads across the Central Valley and into the Sierra Nevada foothills overnight, including in areas that are not normally prone, the National Weather Service said. a number flood advice valid until further notice.

In Ocean is a community in San Luis Obispo County where evacuation orders and warnings were in place overnight, residents said they were concerned that a nearby levee had been damaged by a hurricane in January it could fail, as it did at the Pajaro River on Saturday.

“If it is, it's flooding here,” said Willie Reed, 44, as he sat on his front porch Tuesday, watching the rain. Mr Reed said he and his fiancée had their bags packed and ready to go. Near his house, ducks swam across the road which had been flooded with rain.

In Northern California, where the leading edge of the storm came ashore late Monday, parts of the Sacramento River were rushing. approaching a record high Tuesday night after heavy rain and thunderstorms, said Craig Shoemaker, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He said it raised the prospect of potential flooding in Red Bluff, a small town just over 100 miles north of Sacramento.

Because a hurricane hits an uncontrolled area in the same way a large reservoir does, “it's a bit of a wild card for how much water is going to get down there tonight,” Mr. Shoemaker from Sacramento just before midnight. “That's something we'll be monitoring all night.”

Flooding is not the only risk. At higher elevations, the newest “atmospheric river” piles up more feet of snow on the already groaning roofs. In many mountain communities, the worry is that the snow can get so heavy it can cause roofs to collapse.

When it rains, school forced to close in a number of communities, especially along the Central Coast, and officials statewide issued evacuation warnings for vulnerable places.

On Tuesday evening, the warning began to be lifted. Santa Barbara County ended his evacuation order for people living near burn scars from recent forest fires.

But concerns about road safety remain. Sections of highways and highways in several parts of the state were closed Tuesday due to landslides, flooding and fallen trees due to wind and rain. California Department of Transportation said. Officials warned motorists to avoid driving where moving water covers the sidewalks.

In Monterey County, the coastal stretch of Highway 1 that includes the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge will be closed overnight due to the risk posed by fallen trees and power lines in the Big Sur area, state Department of Transportation said.

Nearby sections of Highway 1 are closed due to an overflowing levee of the Pajaro River, Monterey County Department of Emergency Management said. The river bridge is stable, but officials say it must be assessed before the highway can reopen.

Monterey is among the counties where Governor Gavin Newsom declared a emergency state this month. President Biden has approved federal emergency declaration for California too.

Tuesday's storm was the latest bout of severe weather in what is shaping up to be one of the state's fiercest winters in recent memory. Previous storms have forced some residents to flee flooding and trapped others in their homes under mounds of snow.

The southern Sierra Nevada now has what may well be its own deepest snow pack on record, according to Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Scientists say this winter has become third snowy in the notes for central Sierra.

There is evidence that the United States can expect more unusual severe storms as the planet warms, potentially striking in new locations or at unexpected times of year.

Katya Cenggel contributions reporting from Oceano and San Luis Obispo, California. April Rubin reporting contribution from New York.