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California storms: thousands evacuated over flood risk

23 February 2017

Floodwaters have begun to recede in San Jose, California.

The flooded neighborhood sits beside Coyote Creek, some 20 miles downstream from Anderson Reservoir, which is so full that water has been cascading down its spillway filling the creek to overflowing.

An estimated 14,000 people were evacuated. Some were rescued from their homes by boat.

Another 22,000 people were advised to leave.

Although officials were prepared for the possibility of rising waters based on levels in the dam and expected rain, they said they were unsure exactly where the most problematic areas would be.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued a flash flood warning east of Carson City, Nevada. "They said it was going to flood a little, that's it, but they didn't tell us anything at all that this was going to happen", said Janet Martinez.

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The "atmospheric river" of storms hammered parts of Southern California with nearly a foot of rain late last week before roaring into Northern California on Monday and Tuesday.

San Jose, home to one of the nation's largest populations of unsheltered homeless people, dispatched rescue teams on boats and a helicopter to creekside homeless camps overwhelmed by the swollen waterways.

So fast, the flood trapped horses and submerged parked cars including Alti Sharma's.

"We're just holding our own", she said.

"Current radar and satellite data show the primary cold frontal rainband extending northeast to southwest through southern Santa Clara County and northern Monterey County, and weakening as it progresses inland", according to the forecast. They expanded the mandatory evacuation order to almost all residents East of Coyote Creek and West of Highway 101, except for the Bonita neighborhood.

Widespread power outages were reported around Lake Tahoe Tuesday as a fierce snowstorm hit the area. In Spring Valley, about 2,000 people were cut off when two entrance roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides, Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin said. It noted that "rivers will continue to run high through the end of the week". Some sections of the Creek, the water level had risen at least ten feet. Authorities had ordered an emergency evacuation more than a week ago as a spillway threatened to crumble. Meteorologists said the storms were spawned by an "atmospheric river" bringing moisture from the Pacific Ocean. They fueled the massive rainstorms and subsequent floods that have battered California and much of the West Coast for weeks.