LOS ANGELES – At least nine people are dead and hundreds of landslides and mudslides have been reported in the wake of a powerful atmospheric river storm that lashed California with torrential rain and hurricane-force wind gusts over the past few days.
Downtown Los Angeles received more than 7 inches of rain between Sunday and Monday – the third-highest two-day rainfall total on record. The city averages 14.25 inches of rain annually and has received half of that total in just 48 hours. They added another nearly 2 inches to their tally in the two days' since and have crossed 10 inches for the month.
Residents were urged to stay off the roads and not travel due to the storm's effects, which led to the landslides and flooding that covered streets and highways across the region.
Several swift water rescues were made after vehicles attempted to drive across flooded roads and became stuck.
The surge in moisture is also causing erosion in California coastal communities.
The rainfall led to evacuations at an apartment building in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday after erosion on a bluff caused the building's deck to crack and fall. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department said 45 people were displaced.
More than 500 landslides reported
So far, 562 landslides and mudslides have been reported in the Los Angeles area alone, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Canyon roads north of Sunset Boulevard and south of Mulholland Drive were the hardest hit with "significant" mudslides and washouts along a two-block stretch of Mulholland Drive.
Among the damage, 15 buildings have been declared unsafe, and 31 others have sustained significant damage.
The Department of Public Works reported more than 250 fallen trees and branches and nearly 160 potholes that opened up on roads.
Thousands of first responders were positioned ahead of the storm, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency in eight counties to help support storm response and recovery efforts.
At least 5 dead in Northern California, 4 dead in Southern California
Gov. Newsom declared Wednesday evening that there have been 12 weather-related deaths in the state stretching back to storms in late January that killed three in the San Diego area. In the latest storm, at least four people were killed by falling trees in Northern California while a fifth died in a weather-related traffic crash, according to California's Office of Emergency Services. In Southern California, one person drowned in the Tijuana River, two died in traffic crashes and a fourth died from complications from a power outage.
According to a report from FOX 5 in San Diego, swift water crews received a call from U.S. Customs and Border Protection requesting help in the recovery of a body from the swollen Tijuana River Channel. According to the report, the person found dead was attempting to cross the border west of the San Ysidro Port.
Two other people were also rescued from the San Diego River in a separate incident, according to the report.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in Southern California, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash was killed after the force of the collision sent their vehicle into a nearby flood channel in Moreno Valley and was swept away.
The passenger inside that vehicle was rescued by good Samaritans, and the crash remains under investigation.
Wind gusts in Northern California reached 60-70 mph in the inland valleys, with a gust of 64 mph reported in Sacramento.
In the higher elevations, however, wind gusts were much stronger and rivaled a Category 5 hurricane.
A wind gust of 162 mph was recorded on Ward Mountain in Lake Tahoe on Sunday, and the ski area of Palisades Tahoe saw a gust of 148 mph. In Mono County, wind gusts peaked at 125 mph at Mammoth Mountain Summit.
According to police, it appeared as though the victim may have been using a ladder to try and clear the tree away from his home when it fell on top of him.
When officers arrived, they said they found the man under the large redwood tree and tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead.
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A second person was also killed when a tree fell onto their home in Boulder Creek. Officials said that two people were inside when a tree fell onto the home. One was able to make it out, but a 45-year-old man was trapped inside and killed.
In Sacramento County, a tree fell on a 41-year-old man on Sunday during the storm. He was transported to the nearby hospital, where he died due to his injuries.
The Sacramento County coroner said that a 63-year-old woman also died when a tree fell on her in her backyard on Tuesday.
And in San Luis Obispo County, a 90-year-old woman died in hospice during a power failure.