Torrential rains, floods... California submerged by a new atmospheric river

Torrents of mud in the streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the famous Malibu beach on high alert: California is in the grip of an exceptional winter storm. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for eight southern counties of this state on the American west coast, including the megalopolis of Los Angeles.

Torrential rains in the streets of Los Angeles, February 4, 2024. REUTERS - AUDE GUERRUCCI

By: RFI Follow


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A flash and “life-threatening” flood warning was in effect on February 5 for West Hollywood, Malibu, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, in the

United States

. Residents were asked to immediately return to higher ground. Since Sunday morning, violent winds, locally accompanied by tornadoes and especially torrential rain, have hit southern California. A first victim died in northern California, crushed by a redwood tree in his garden.

Mudslides are sweeping away cars and even a few houses. Landslides block several roads. And since last night, nearly a million homes have been plunged into darkness. In Orange County, residents living along the canyons and at least two dozen communities in the mountains were ordered to evacuate. 

According to the US Weather Service (NWS), 13 to 20 centimeters of rain are expected to fall in the Los Angeles area, bringing the total to more than 35 centimeters of rain in 48 hours in some places. And dozens of flights departing and arriving at Los Angeles airport were canceled or delayed, according to the tracking site

The situation in California is particularly at risk, because the soils are still saturated with water from the last “

atmospheric river

”, a series of storms that occurred at the end of December 2023. This meteorological phenomenon, usually rare, is being repeated due to El Niño and global warming which are causing ocean temperatures to rise. And the worst is yet to come: the storm is expected to slow down and hover over California until at least Tuesday.

Also readStorms in California: “A perfect example” of the effects of global warming


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