Officials in California are “imploring” residents to prepare for the next powerful storm. Officials highly recommend some California residents prepare for two weeks of essentials as extensive flooding is a definite possibility. As early as this morning, Wednesday, March 8th, approximately 16 million people across central and Northern California, the San Francisco Bay area, and Sacramento were already under a flood watch, according to the report from CNN on Wednesday morning. Officials in Marin and Monterey counties have begun to prepare as the forecasted “Atmospheric River Event” is set to hit in the upcoming hours. Emergency services advised residents and businesses to stock up on essentials for at least two weeks, making sandbags readily available. Given the situation in the mountainous regions of San Bernardino County, the urgency is warranted as residents are still not recovered and have needed essentials since February 28th. However, although the “Coldest Storm of Winter” was forecasted, residents nor officials expected the impact this storm caused. Residents did precisely what they should do when a powerful storm is predicted, believing they were stocked up and prepared until the storm was over. Unfortunately, the true impact of the storm left multitudes of families without power and running low on food and gas for generators.
An “Atmospheric River” is a flashy name for atmospheric moisture that can result in extensive rainfall or snowfall. Acting essentially like a river in the sky, the word sounds catastrophic, and in some cases, can be. However, this river in the clouds may sometimes act like a giant fire hose spouting large amounts of rainfall before the system stalls. Light to moderate rain may be sprayed as the river shifts, sometimes accompanied by strong winds. With this predicted “Atmospheric River” brewing over the Pacific Ocean, the impact will be felt in California, Central, Northern, and Southern regions from Friday to Saturday, potentially unleashing flooding, mudslides, snow, and strong winds between Thursday evening and Saturday.
In Southern California and considering the still dire situations in the San Bernardino Mountains, it seems all California residents should prepare. Here in the Inland Empire, we may need to get out our umbrellas again, a considerably less call for urgency than in other parts of California; however, being somewhat prepared with essentials is always a good idea. Dangerous road conditions, in combination with potential flooding and inclement weather, most of us should heed to warnings forecasted and continue to proceed with caution, one of the strangest winters California has ever experienced.
As CalFire and emergency crews continue to plow out roads diligently, residents in San Bernardino Mountains continue to dig out vehicles, dig the snow off their rooftops, and hike to stores to get their essentials-stocked shortages again. Unfortunately, the latest forecast will not help the current situation; the chance of avalanches and the snow becoming hard-packed can make the situation even more dire.
However, a needed umbrella cannot compare to those still stranded in the San Bernardino Mountain region since February 28th. Although CalFire and other first responders are making headway in reaching residents, all who reside in the region have not been reached, especially those in the more remote areas. With rescue workers plowing diligently to open roads, residents are still digging out their vehicles or taking long hikes to get much-needed food and supplies. Unfortunately, the latest forecast will not help the current situation; the chance of avalanches, and the snow becoming quite hard-packed will make the circumstances even more extreme. Not only can rain cause hard-packed snow, but it can also send snow flowing, causing extreme flooding. San Bernardino County Fire Chief Dan Munsey states, “We need better plans for severe blizzards. We need to have leases set up to get the equipment quicker. We must set up agreements to allow private contractors to come in.”
With reservoirs full from back-to-back storms, creeks will rise more rapidly in all regions of California. The urgency from the Weather Prediction Center and California officials to be prepared for at least two weeks is not to be taken lightly. Although the call pertains mainly to Northern California, Southern California will also feel the impact. Preparedness is always vital, and given the unpredictable weather patterns, and unusual effects upon our region, umbrellas may not be the only essential the Inland Empire may need. At this point, and the reality of this winter season, all of us should think ahead with at least a few more batteries for those flashlights, a little extra food, and much more caution when driving.
No need to panic, Inland Empire; just be safe and ready.
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