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17 Dead, Boy, 5, Missing as Major Atmospheric River Sweeps Across California

A major atmospheric river that struck California has destroyed homes and killed 17 people, while a five-year-old boy is missing, according to officials.

The adverse weather event that began on Monday was the latest in a number of storms that began in December and has prompted evacuation orders and school closures amid flash flooding, strong winds, mudslides, and road closures.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), nearly all of California has received rainfall totals 400 percent to 600 percent above average in the past several weeks.

Santa Barbara County’s Cachuma Reservoir rose almost 5 feet in 24 hours, according to NWS warning coordination meteorologist, Eric Boldt.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday that the confirmed death toll from the latest storms was 17, although officials expect that number to rise in the coming days.

Boy Missing

Elsewhere, Newsom stated that a five-year-old boy is missing after being swept away in floodwaters near Paso Robles in central coastal California on Monday.

Authorities, including air and water rescue teams, were forced to call off a search for the boy on Monday due to extreme weather conditions, according to the New York Post. However, they have since resumed the search. So far, officials have only found a shoe belonging to the child.

The boy, identified as Kyle Doan, was with his mother on Monday as the pair headed to school. Their truck was stuck by “raging waters” just after 8 a.m. local time, according to the Post.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Kim Ochoa leaves her Merced, Calif., home, which is surrounded by floodwaters, as storms continue to batter the state on Jan. 10, 2023. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Search for Missing Boy Continues

Bystanders were able to pull the boy’s mother from the car but the child was swept away by the waters and carried downstream where he was likely taken into the river, police said.

Two of those killed in the storms were a pickup truck driver and a motorcyclist who died early on Tuesday in the San Joaquin Valley when a tree that had been struck by lightning fell on them, authorities confirmed.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 31 of California’s 58 counties had been declared disaster areas. More than 30,000 people across the state have been evacuated from their homes, according to The Los Angeles Times.

That includes all 4,000 residents of Planada, which sits along a main highway leading to Yosemite National Park, and where neighborhoods have been swept underwater and cars have been submerged up to their roofs.

According to Power Outage U.S., 51,413 customers in California are currently without power.

Latest Atmospheric River

While it is still too early to give exact estimates, the latest storm and those before it may have caused more than $1 billion worth of damage, Adam Smith, a disaster expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Los Angeles Times.

President Joe Biden earlier this week approved an emergency declaration for California that authorizes federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the severe storms.

The latest atmospheric river—a long narrow region of moisture stretching out into the Pacific that can transport huge amounts of rain and snow—has started to ease in some areas but more rain and thundershowers are forecast to arrive in Northern California on Wednesday and another powerful storm system is expected to hit the state on Friday, NWS said.

Elsewhere, NWS issued a heavy snow warning across portions of California from Jan. 14–16.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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