California In State of Panic Amid Fears of Flooding, Avalanches, and Blizzards


Public agencies across Northern California are bracing for a weekend of epic rain and snow after meeting with hydrologists from the National Weather Service who warned them that the incoming atmospheric river packs a punch not seen in at least a decade.

“People are definitely in a state of panic right now,” said El Dorado County sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Hammitt. “We’re getting a lot of calls asking if we’re going to be able to deal with everything. It’s the general pandemonium of not knowing what’s coming.”

Up to 12 inches of rain is expected below 8,500 feet, and massive amounts of snow — up to 6 feet — above that elevation across the Sierra Nevada. A colder storm two days behind will drop yet more heavy snow.

“We’re expecting heavy, heavy rain. It starts out as snow then turns to rain then turns to snow again,” Hammitt said. “We’re concerned about the melt increasing waterways and all the lakes.”

Hammitt recalled storms in 1997 and 2005 when  runoff overwhelmed local rivers and creeks and sent water into roads and homes, lifting some buildings off their foundations.

“We have streams, creeks, rivers. We have lakes and ponds. Anybody near a water source could be in jeopardy depending on the severity of the storm,” Hammitt said.

Two sinkholes have already emerged on county roads as a result of three stormy days earlier in the week. County residents have already filled 12,000 sandbags in preparation for the storm and another 20,000 are on the way in, Hammitt said.

“Anytime it’s Mother Nature, you have to be ready,” Hammitt said.

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Source: LA Times