Evacuation orders are continuing in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and parts of Monterey County, “an immediate threat to life”.
The order can see up to 10 inches of rain between parts of the Bay Area and the Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia Mountains until late Thursday. High wind warnings are also in effect in the Bay Area through Wednesday afternoon. Across the state, more than 8 million people are under flood alert, with a combination of torrential rain with historic mountain snowfall in the region.
According to CNN affiliate KSBW, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Depots went door-to-door earlier this week warning residents to leave the area in front of the storm.
“Please be safe and pay attention to evacuation orders,” the Sheriff’s Office urged Tuesday Twitter.
Potential of hazardous mudslides
But it is not just powerful winds and heavy rains that are worrying for the authorities. Significant burnt marks remain from the 2020 wildfire season, meaning potential for mouselids. In the Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, the CZU August Lightning complex scorched more than 85,000 acres in the fall.
When wildlife consumes the land, they destroy vegetation that would otherwise absorb water and capture soil and debris. After burning millions of acres across the state last year, this land is now at high risk for both flash floods and mudslides.
And mudslides can be extremely dangerous. According to the United States Geological Survey, they kill between 25 and 50 people across the United States each year. According to the USGS, “most fatalities result from rock falls, debris flows, or volcanic debris flows.”
In January 2018, at least 20 people lost their lives, dozens of homes were destroyed and hundreds more were damaged in the wake of mudslides that devastated Montecito.
Resident Tina Button reported that KSBW bought her family an RV specifically for such situations.
“If we need to leave, we have a place to stay that we don’t have to pay or worry about to find,” Button said. “Before we were evacuated to the fire, we had no idea where we were going to go.”
Heavy snow is also expected
Meanwhile, parts of the High Sierra may see 5 feet of snow this week, while some areas may possibly see 7 feet of snow by Friday.
The state’s transportation agency Keltrans said they are expecting “blizzard and whiteout conditions” in parts of the Sierra.
“We cannot insist on this – if you have not joined your prayer before your sunrise, a visit to Sierra is not permitted,” Caltrans wrote Twitter
Tuesday. “Heavy snow is on tap and whiteout conditions are expected. Please choose the smart travel option.”
In Battee County, officials reported that it had started to snow and residents were warned to “take all precautions” while driving.
“Remembering to slow down, watch for road hazards such as trees, power lines and other hazards,” Batty County Sheris Office said.
CNN’s Joe Sutton and Sarah Moon contributed to this report.