The biggest winter storm of the season is expected to hit California this week as Trump declared emergencies in 34 counties across the state and officials work against the clock to the repair the nation’s tallest dam.
California has suffered through a series of deadly winter storms that have triggered massive flooding and mudslides, causing millions in damages and forcing 180,000 people living near Oroville Dam to evacuate their homes.
Friday, Governor Jerry Brown asked Trump to declare much of California a disaster area making it available to receive federal funds and Wednesday the White House responded by authorizing FEMA assistance, according to the Daily News.
“The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts,”
Trump and California have been at odds with each other since the inauguration and there were some in the Golden State who worried the President would deny them federal assistance, but the release of federal aid has put those fears to rest.
Rain from yet another series of storms began falling Wednesday in Northern California and is expected to hit the southern part of the state by Thursday. The wet weather is expected to continue through next week with heavy rain, snow, and strong winds expected by Friday.
Much of the rainfall is expected to hit Southern California where it could cause excess runoff, flash floods, and travel delays, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews.
“The late-week storm has the potential to be the biggest of the winter in terms of rainfall and impact to much of Southern California.”
The southland can expect 3 to 6 inches of rain along the coast and 6 to 12 inches below snow levels in the mountains with most of the precipitation falling within a 24-hour period. Such a large amount of rain in such a short period will probably lead to impassable roads and power outages.
The continuing rainfall makes repairing the Oroville Dam, the tallest in the nation, even more difficult. Officials are trying to drain California’s second largest lake to 60 percent capacity and affect repairs on the damaged spillway that forced almost 200,000 from their homes this week after authorities reported a hole near the top of the emergency spillway.
The Oroville Dam isn’t in danger of breaching, but damage on the emergency spillway, caused by severe erosion when on Sunday, has authorities concerned. Officials worry the damage could have resulted in a 30-foot wall of water flooding down the Feather River toward Sacramento.
The extremely wet California winter has filled state reservoirs emptied by the historic drought plaguing the state, but the massive amounts of rainfall pose a serious threat to the state’s Central Valley.
The winter storms continue to pound California and some scientists are beginning to fear a massive superstorm that last hit the state in 1862 and turned the Central Valley into a lake. Historic documents show winter storms, fueled by Hawaiian tropical waters, causing a massive superflood in the state’s Central Valley measuring some 300 miles long and 20 miles wide in the winter of 1862.
In 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey studied the superflood they dubbed the ARkStorm and determined it could cause some $725 billion in damages, destroy a quarter of the buildings in the state, and leave millions homeless.
This week, as the officials at Oroville worked to prevent a disaster, authorities in Los Angeles ordered the inspection of area dams.
Gov. Brown, however, expressed optimism California and Trump could work together on the crisis affecting the Golden State, as reported by Governing.
“There will be different points of view. But we’re all one America, and we all have challenges that we share in common. And as we defend America, we defend California, and vice versa.”
[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]