California was bracing Sunday for a storm that threatens to hurl hurricane-force winds and cause flooding and landslides as it travels up the coast in the coming days.
“This storm could be one of the largest and most powerful in our nation’s history and our goal is to get it through without fatalities or serious injuries,” Santa Barbara County Police Chief Bill Brown told reporters Sunday.
Authorities issued evacuation orders for Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Ventura and Monterey counties, and canceled classes in Santa Barbara County.
The storm, whose weather phenomenon stretches from the U.S. west coast across the Pacific Ocean and into Hawaii, arrived in California on Saturday as much of the state was under warnings for high winds, high tides or flooding.
By Sunday morning, the National Weather Service had issued a hurricane wind warning for the central California coast, with winds of 92 miles per hour (148 kilometers per hour), from the Monterey Peninsula to the northern part of San Luis Obispo County.
The storm is forecast to hit the Los Angeles area with torrential downpours, flooding and snow in the mountains on Sunday, and the same on Monday in Orange County and San Diego. Showers are forecast across Southern California through Monday.
The weather agency predicted up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain in the valleys and coastal areas of Southern California, and up to 12 inches (31 centimeters) in the mountains. Landslides, debris and flooding are also expected.
This is the second time in a few days that California has been affected by the weather phenomenon called atmospheric river, a band of moisture that forms over the Pacific. The first reached the San Francisco area on Wednesday, dumping downpours and snowfall that forced the suspension of cable car service.