California Storm Brings Record Rainfall, Evacuations, and Closures; 3 Killed

California Storm Brings Record Rainfall, Evacuations, and Closures; 3 Killed

Signage in a road construction area on the 101 freeway warns of flooding as the second and more powerful of two atmospheric river storms, arrives south of Santa Barbara, California, on February 4, 2024. The US West Coast was getting drenched on February 1 as the first of two powerful storms moved in, part of a "Pineapple Express" weather pattern that was washing out roads and sparking flood warnings. The National Weather Service said "the largest storm of the season" would likely begin on February 4. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP) (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin


Updated: 2/5/2024

Wet weather continued across California on Feb. 5 as the latest destructive storm delivered record rainfall, caused at least three deaths, and left nearly half a million residents without power.
A 45-year-old man died in Santa Cruz County on Feb. 4 after a tree fell onto a home along Highway 9 in Boulder Creek, according to the local sheriff’s office. While one person was able to escape, Robert Brainard III, of Boulder Creek, was trapped inside and was pronounced dead at the scene, the department confirmed to The Epoch Times.
In Sacramento County, Chad Ensey, 41, of Carmichael, died of injuries after he was struck by a falling tree in his backyard during the storm on Feb. 4. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.
A third man died on Feb. 4 after a tree fell on him in Yuba City in Northern California, according to local police. Police responded to the victim at about 7 p.m. and found the man lying under a large redwood tree in his backyard. Paramedics were unable to revive him, the Yuba City Police Department reported on social media.
Officials had downgraded or canceled most evacuation orders in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by Monday afternoon as the storm weakened in Southern California.
Forecasters expected lighter rainfall through Feb. 5, with Los Angeles County picking up another 2 to 4 inches and mountains and foothills getting 4 to 8 inches more, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The mountains have already received 8 to 14 inches of rain from the storm, the forecaster reported.
“For today and through tomorrow, it’s going to be pretty much steady rain but nowhere near as heavy as it was last night or this morning,” NWS meteorologist Rich Thompson told The Epoch Times.
The atmospheric river storm carried tropical moisture to the Golden State, smashing century-old records throughout Los Angeles County. Downtown Los Angeles received a record 4.1 inches of rain on Feb. 4, breaking the record of 2.55 inches set in 1927, according to the NWS.
Feb. 4 was also the third-wettest February day and tied for the 10th-wettest day ever recorded in downtown Los Angeles, the weather service reported.
Records were also broken at Los Angeles International Airport, with 1.76 inches of rain; the Long Beach Airport, with 1.5 inches; and the Santa Barbara Airport, which received 2.39 inches.
Los Angeles County residents received flood warning alerts late on Feb. 4, and officials urged them to stay home unless forced to leave. Several people were rescued after rising waters trapped them in their cars, and several homes were struck by trees or small landslides.
In Los Angeles, debris struck three homes in Tarzana, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Two residents were evacuated, and no injuries were reported. In Studio City, several homes on Lockridge Road were damaged when hillside boulders rolled into them, according to reports.
In Long Beach, a fire crew rescued 19 people at about 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 4 after their 50-foot sailboat hit a breakwall.
Waves crash over a breakwater in Alameda, Calif., with the San Francisco skyline in the background on Feb. 4, 2024. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Waves crash over a breakwater in Alameda, Calif., with the San Francisco skyline in the background on Feb. 4, 2024. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Gale-force winds and rough seas pushed the boat into the wall; rescue swimmers helped get the boaters back to safety. The people were taken to the dock for medical evaluation, according to the Long Beach Fire Department.
High winds with gusts reaching 60 miles per hour also caused damage throughout Monterey County in Central California, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving thousands without electricity.
The storm also forced the cancellation of the fourth and final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament. Pebble Beach and Arroyo Seco residents were ordered to shelter in place on the night of Feb. 4. Meals on Wheels, a meal service for disadvantaged residents and seniors, also closed some of its routes in the county on Feb. 5.
The storm also affected some recreational activities in Southern California. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm were closed on Feb. 5. Santa Anita Park canceled Feb. 4’s eight-race program, and the Getty Center and Villa announced it would be closed on Feb. 4 and 5. The Los Angeles Zoo was closed on Feb. 5.
Meanwhile, ski resorts in California reported getting several inches of snow. In Lake Tahoe, the Homewood Mountain resort received five inches, while Kirkwood reported getting more than a foot and a half. Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe received 14 inches of snow on Feb. 4. Tahoe Donner in North Lake Tahoe received 21 inches.
Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves about 16 million customers in Northern California, reported that about 445,000 customers remained without power early on Feb. 5. The company had restored power to more than 900,000 customers since the storm began, according to spokesman Jeff Smith.
About 200,000 customers who were without power lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Smith said.
“We expect to make quite a bit of progress today with the break in the weather,” Mr. Smith told The Epoch Times. “Some [outages] might extend into tomorrow.”
A person walks through flood waters as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, affects Santa Barbara, Calif., on Feb. 4, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A person walks through flood waters as a powerful long-duration atmospheric river storm, the second in less than a week, affects Santa Barbara, Calif., on Feb. 4, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Residents along La Tuna Canyon Road in Los Angeles remained under an evacuation order on Feb. 5 because of mudslide and flooding risk along burn scars from a 2022 fire. The order was expected to remain in place until Feb. 6.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Feb. 4 in eight counties, including Los Angeles and Orange counties. Los Angeles declared its own state of emergency later in the day.
“This emergency declaration allows us to move quickly to deploy resources, and it aligns with Gov. Newsom’s order issued today,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Lindsey Horvath said.
The emergency proclamations will help local governments get needed supplies and resources during the storm.
Los Angeles Unified School District kept all schools open on Feb. 5 except Vinedale College Preparatory Academy and Topanga Elementary Charter schools. Classes for the closed locations were moved to other schools for the day.
“We will continue to closely monitor conditions at all schools, and especially at those schools which are more often impacted by the rain,” the school said in a bulletin on the morning of Feb. 5.
The Santa Monica–Malibu Unified School District closed all schools after the severe weather caused road closures. Several other school districts closed on Feb. 5, mostly in Central and Northern California, including Santa Rosa Schools, Sonoma Valley Unified, and a handful of schools on the east side of San Jose.
Several roads were closed on Feb. 4 after rain and strong winds caused rocks, trees, and debris to fall across the state.
In Southern California, the southbound I-5 and I-110 interchange was closed by a landslide. A mudslide damaged homes in Hollywood Hills, and a tree crushed a car on the I-101 near Santa Rosa, according to reports.
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin


Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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