“California is mobilizing to keep people safe from the impacts of the incoming storm,” Newsom said. “This state of emergency will allow the state to respond quickly as the storm develops and support local officials in their ongoing response.”
The proclamation authorizes the mobilization of the state's National Guard and puts the State Operations Center at its highest level of readiness.
Fueled by the merger of a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, the storm that is forecast to unleash multiple inches of new rainfall along with high winds began lashing the California coastline late Wednesday morning, hours after it had originally been expected to push on shore.
🛰Marvel at the satellite imagery this morning. Those asking, "Where's the Storm"? It's still coming. The rain this morning is not the main event so to speak. Heavier rain is expected later today. Blue dots are lightning flashes. #cawx pic.twitter.com/Q3E4xYur5m
— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) January 4, 2023
The storm comes on the heels of a historic rainfall event in Northern California on Dec. 31, in which San Francisco received 5.46 inches of rain, just shy of its all-time record. With the ground now saturated and with numerous rivers already at flood stage, the additional rain and wind are expected to cause chaos across much of the state, including the possibility of large-scale power outages.
"Take inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity," the governor's office warned in a press release. "Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs if the power goes out such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last."
Other effects of the storm, such as impassable roads, are also considered likely.
“We anticipate that this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years,” Nancy Ward, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said at a Wednesday news conference.
Ahead of the heaviest rains, which are expected late Wednesday into Thursday, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office issued evacuation warnings for parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
January 4, 2023 10:00am
The Sheriff’s Office is issuing an evacuation warning for the following zones:
Residents may look up their evacuation zones at https://t.co/BKuKNomi3h@CALFIRECZU @sccounty pic.twitter.com/wtSAnr09LT
— Santa Cruz SO (@SantaCruzSO1) January 4, 2023
As the storm approached, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, which normally issues alerts concerning wildfires in the state, was warning residents about the dangers of flooding.
A strong system will bring heavy rainfall Wednesday - Thursday. Expect areas of urban flooding, and rising streams, creeks, and rivers. Stay alert if living near streams and creeks, follow evacuation orders, and be especially cautious driving at night. pic.twitter.com/7YteBvgf1r
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) January 4, 2023
The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for counties across the state, including cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.
While the storm hitting Wednesday into Thursday is the most immediate threat to the state, California is also forecast to continue to see heavy rain from an ongoing atmospheric river in nine of the next 10 days.
"Residual flooding impacts could extend into the weekend along with additional storms lingering into next week," Newsom's office said in a press release.
Flooding is already expected to be dangerous enough with this incoming bomb cyclone and pineapple express, but with at least 4 more additional atmospheric rivers possible over the next 10 days, I'm getting very concerned about extreme flooding potential, especially in NorCal. pic.twitter.com/ISGrV1IzS4
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) January 4, 2023