California, the state on the west coast of the USA, which is commonly known for sun, palm trees and Hollywood, sometimes also for drought and forest fires, has been repeatedly hit by extremely heavy snow and rain for weeks, causing floods and claiming fatalities. The situation was so threatening on Friday that the White House complied with a request from California Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency for the state and pledge federal support.
Two people have already died in this latest winter storm, while nearly 10,000 have been evacuated, authorities said Friday afternoon local time. “There’s a lot going on across California, torrential rain and melting snow leading to severe flooding or risk of flooding across much of the state,” warned the National Weather Service on Friday via Twitter.
The heavy rains and, depending on the location, melting snow are causing so much water in some places that the authorities decided to open the spillway of the Oroville Dam near the California capital Sacramento for the first time in four years.
According to the news channel “ABC News”, there is also a risk of roofs collapsing in many places, since heavy snow loads, some of which are soaked through and made even more difficult by later rains, cannot be skimmed off quickly enough. Flood warnings for southwest California were initially limited to 10 p.m. local time on Friday evening.