California continues to experience 'relentless parade of cyclones'

Part of US state at risk of being cut off because of intense flooding

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More extreme weather is forecasted for California this week, with a “relentless parade of cyclones” set to pummel the US state, the National Weather Service said, adding to the miserable stretch of deadly weather the state has already endured.

At least 18 people are confirmed to have been killed in the storms.

A five-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters in San Luis Obispo County on Monday morning was still missing as of Thursday. The Sacramento Sheriff's Office said National Guard troops would assist in search efforts.

Kyle Doan was being driven by his mother to school when their car was overwhelmed by floodwaters. Bystanders managed to rescue Lindsay Doan, his mother, but the boy was swept away.

“We will search until we find him,” San Luis Obispo County spokesman Tony Cipolla told The San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Another atmospheric river was expected to hit parts of Northern California and the Pacific North-West through Saturday, the NWS said in a Thursday briefing. North-western California has the highest chance of being hit by excessive rainfall.

“This shift in the course of the atmospheric river is related to a change in the weather pattern across the US, allowing a ridge of high pressure to build over the western US while a rather strong low-pressure system moves swiftly through the eastern half of the country,” the NWS said.

The latest storms follow weeks of intense rainfall that has hit the state, causing flash floods and prompting concerns over potentially devastating mudslides.

Cities south of the San Francisco Bay area risk being cut off from the rest of the state because of the floodwaters.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office warned residents that flooding along the Salinas River could sever them from US Highways 1 and 68.

“The number of inches of rain and the intensity doesn't tell the entire story,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in the town of Capitola on Tuesday.

“We're soaked — this place is soaked. And now just more modest amounts of precipitation could add as equal or greater impact in terms of the conditions on the ground.”

But the intense rainfall had little impact on the drought that has plagued the state. About 95 per cent of California remains in drought, down from 98 per cent last week, a report from the US Drought Monitor showed.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Updated: January 12, 2023, 11:40 PM