Jan 16 (Reuters) – Demonstrations of the torrential rains that have battered California for three weeks faded on Monday, prompting the government to begin repairing roads and highways as the White House announced President Joe Biden plans to assess the damage.
The nine consecutive hurricanes that have devastated California since Dec. 26 killed at least 20 people and thousands were ordered to evacuate as of Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said in a major executive order that bolstered the state’s response to the storm’s devastation.
“The last of the heavy rain in California is slowly winding down. It’s not supposed to be heavy again by midnight,” said meteorologist David Roth of the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
Mr. Biden will travel to the central coast on Thursday to meet with first responders, visit affected towns, and “assess additional federal assistance that is needed,” the White House said.
The president had already issued an emergency declaration on January 8 to release federal aid and on Saturday approved disaster relief for Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties.
The White House did not reveal which areas Biden will visit.
Among the most dramatic images of the storm’s damage was Highway 1, a scenic coastal road near Big Sur, which was closed in several places due to mud and falling rocks that spread across the road.
Despite the damage, the storm also helped ease the notorious drought, as many areas have already received half or more of their annual rainfall.
But with more than two months of rain left, officials are urging Californians to continue conserving water. The US Drought Monitor still shows almost all of the country under drought or drought conditions. Reservoir levels are still very low for this time of year, officials said.
Also, atmospheric streams failed to reach the Colorado River, the main source of water for southern California.
“If you rely on the Colorado River as part of your water supply, then there will be ongoing drought problems because of the drought in that part of the country,” Michael Anderson, a meteorologist in California, told reporters.
Two Colorado reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, were at 28.5% and 22.6% of capacity, respectively, and are still lower than this time a year ago according to Water-Data.com.
The ninth in a row in the space system flooded on Monday, its remnants submerged the southernmost part of the state, Arizona and northern Mexico, Roth said.
The storms are like rivers in the sky that carry moisture from the warm parts of the Earth to high altitudes, dropping heavy rain.
Another storm was moving in that could bring moderate rain Tuesday and Wednesday. The US National Weather Service said it lacked a volume that could be described as an atmospheric stream, while the state Department of Water Resources said it could be one briefly.
California can expect drought for the rest of January, state officials said.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, Calif., and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Edited by Josie Kao, Grant McCool and Jamie Freed
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