NewsCalifornia Gears Up for Intense Rain and Flooding with Consecutive 'Pineapple Express'...

California Gears Up for Intense Rain and Flooding with Consecutive ‘Pineapple Express’ Storms

The West Coast is preparing for severe weather on Thursday and into the weekend. More than 22 million people are under flood alerts, and authorities are gearing up for back-to-back Pacific storms.

An additional 32 million people are also under high wind alerts, which could result in possible widespread power outages due to the “atmospheric river” effect caused by airborne currents of dense moisture.

The two storms expected Thursday and Sunday into Monday, are being described as a “Pineapple Express,” originating in the subtropical waters around Hawaii.

High areas are expected to be hit by snow, with over a million people further inland, into the Rockies, under winter weather alerts. Some places could see several feet of snow, with areas above 7,000 feet getting 12 to 18 inches of snow, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Hart.

Heavy snow has already arrived early Thursday in Soda Springs in Nevada County, California, with drone video showing backed-up traffic, out-of-control cars, and snowplows out in force on Interstate 80. Up to 2 feet of snow could fall in the Sierras through Friday.

Motorists travel along a rain-soaked U.S. Highway 101 during a storm in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024.Motorists travel along rain-soaked U.S. Highway 101 during a storm Wednesday in San Francisco.Stephen Lam / San Francisco Chronicle via AP

California has already experienced 70 mph winds, with early Thursday seeing firefighters in Sonoma County rescuing a driver from a car that had driven into a flooded road and was taking on water. Sonoma County Fire District X said: “Don’t risk it, if water is flowing over the road #TurnAroundDontDrown.”

Gusts of up to 45 mph across California could lead to power outages.

Wednesday morning saw firefighters rescuing a girl after a tree fell and trapped her inside her home in Saratoga, California. She suffered injuries that were not life-threatening and was treated at a hospital.

Southern California is expected to bear the brunt of Thursday’s deluge, with 1 to 3 inches of rain expected. The weather service said that localized thunderstorms could bring even more rain. The region is still recovering from record rainfall and flooding in recent weeks.

Orange County and San Bernardino, California, could get intense rain from 9 a.m. PT (12 p.m. ET), the agency said, while parts of San Bernardino and the mountains of Riverside County will get heavy snow.

There may be a brief respite for California on Saturday, but another, most likely stronger, storm is due Sunday into Monday, again bringing heavy rain, wind, and snow.

The California Department of Water Resources said it had nearly 5 million sandbags and more than 62,000 flood-blocking “super sacks” ready to close levee breaches.

The city of San Diego issued a voluntary evacuation warning to people in flood-prone areas, including Southcrest, Mountain View, Encanto, San Ysidro, Sorrento Valley, and Mission Valley. The city has opened a shelter for affected people at the municipal gym in Balboa Park and is arranging transportation.

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