California weather calms but storm damage seen as extensive

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Stephanie Beard, of Brentwood, carries a sand bag to her flooded home on Bixler Road in Brentwood, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. The last in a three-week series of major winter storms is churning through California. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

California’s weather was calmer Tuesday after weeks of atmospheric rivers that slammed the state with damaging rains, wind and surf that flooded homes, highways and farm fields, collapsed hillsides, and toppled countless trees.

Tallying the damage will take time, but the number of homes and other structures that will be red-tagged as uninhabitable could be in the “low thousands,” said Brian Ferguson, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

The damage is spread across 41 of California’s 58 counties, Ferguson said.

Light rain and snow showers lingered in some areas, but skies were finally largely clear.

A shot of precipitation from a quick system was predicted for Wednesday or Thursday, followed by a dry period, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters cautioned that although the midweek rainfall will be light, it could be enough to cause problems because the state is so saturated.

Flood warnings remained in effect for the Salinas River in Monterey County and parts of Mariposa and Merced counties in the Central Valley.

Nine atmospheric rivers since late December have caused power outages, flooding, levee breaks, washouts, and landslides. At least 20 people have been killed.

The amount of rain and snow has been staggering.

The San Francisco “water year” to date — since Oct 1, 2022 — has recorded 21.75 inches (55.24 centimeters) of rain, making it the sixth-wettest water year on record, the National Weather Service said.

The amount of water in the snowpack covering the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges is more than 250% of normal to date and 124% of the April 1 average, when the pack is normally at its peak, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

President Joe Biden is planning to travel to California’s central coast on Thursday to visit areas that have been devastated by the extreme weather. The White House said in a statement Monday that the president would meet first responders and state and local officials, survey recovery efforts, and assess what additional federal support is needed.

Republished with the permission of The Associated Press.