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Biden declares a state of “major disaster” in California

California, already drenched after a series of storms that killed at least 19 people, must go through a new episode of precipitation Sunday evening and Monday, before the dry weather sets in.

• Also read: New storm hits California, ‘catastrophic floods’ expected

• Also read: 450 cm of snow has fallen since Christmas in this area of ​​California

The western state, the most populous in the United States, is about to experience its ninth bout of continuous rain in about three weeks.

On Saturday, waterspouts have already hit the Pacific coast, causing many rivers to overflow and plunging urban areas, homes, and farmland into an endless drought.

Authorities have warned that there must be a lull on Sunday before a “new river flows into the atmosphere” – a meteorological phenomenon that brings huge amounts of water from the tropics from the sky.

“This is only the eighth atmospheric river out of the nine we expect,” Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Saturday. “not finished.”

Getty Images via AFP

The US Weather Service (NWS) said the new rainfall forecast “in some places could cause flooding” because the soil is waterlogged and saturated.

In Santa Cruz County (south of San Francisco), where many areas remained under flood warnings, the city beach was still littered Sunday by logs and trash carried by the San Lorenzo River for the past two weeks.

But the gray skies and early morning rain didn’t stop Evan Short and three friends from playing beach volleyball in the wreckage.

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“I saw a slight calm in the weather and convinced other desperate friends to join us,” the 29-year-old data analyst, who has struggled to outrun raindrops in recent days, told AFP. “Next week there will be a few days without rain, finally, so it will be fine.”

The succession of these storms since the end of December may end soon.

At the end of the week, the NWS expects “a period of drier weather over California and the southwestern United States.”

France Press agency

Then California may, at last, have time to repair the damage, restore electricity—some 20,000 homes were still without it Sunday morning—and learn the lessons of this bad weather “unprecedented on the scale of our lives,” in the words of the governor. .

In San Francisco, the past three months or so have been the wettest since the winter of 1972-73. At the same time, California, whose agriculture is fueled by North America, is facing an unprecedented, prolonged drought.

However, the heavy rains of recent weeks will not reverse the trend. “It will not be enough to refill Lake Mead,” warns the NWS, for example, of this giant reservoir on the Colorado River that irrigates California and whose level has declined relentlessly for years.

But the water control and retention infrastructure — dams, artificial lakes and restricted river basins — “was designed 40, 50 years ago” for a “world that no longer exists,” estimates Saturday M. The specialists explain that by preventing water runoff, these developments limit the vital recharge of groundwater.

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The Democrat, one of the most committed figures in the United States on climate change, intends to address these questions, as “temperatures are getting hotter, drier and (…) wetter”. Scientists say global warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.