Boy, 5, is swept away and death toll climbs to 14 in California’s raging mega storms


Harry and Meghan’s home in Montecito, California has been placed under an evacuation order with residents told to ‘LEAVE NOW’.

The order came as a five-year-old boy was swept away in floodwaters and the death toll in California’s mega storms climbed to 14.

A relentless string of storms has slammed the Golden State, swamping roads, battering coastlines with high surf, turning rivers into gushing flood zones and forcing the evacuation of thousands in towns with histories of deadly mudslides.

The National Weather Service said rain was expected to continue through Tuesday after dumping up to 14 inches at higher elevations in central and Southern California. After a brief respite, another storm was expected to barrel into the state in a few days, adding to the misery of the state’s residents.

 

Pictured: A view of flood waters in Montecito Creek in Montecito, California, U.S., January 9, 2023 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video

A five-year-old boy has been swept away after his mother’s truck became stranded in floodwater, as the death toll in California’s mega storms climbed to 14. Pictured: Floodwaters are seen flowing through Montecito, California, home to several high-profile celebrities

Water runs down a road in Montecito, California on Monday, January 9, 2023

Water runs down a road in Montecito, California on Monday, January 9, 2023

All of Santa Barbara County was ordered to shelter in place while Montecito - the California town home to Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle - was among those ordered evacuated in the state on Monday, with firefighters warning mudslides could engulf homes

All of Santa Barbara County was ordered to shelter in place while Montecito – the California town home to Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle – was among those ordered evacuated in the state on Monday, with firefighters warning mudslides could engulf homes

The town of about 9,000 people is a favorite of American entertainment royalty such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Rob Lowe and Larry David. It was expected to get up to eight inches of rain in 24 hours – on hillsides already sodden by weeks of downpours. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have lived in their $14 million million home in the quiet seaside city since 2020 after stepping back from their royal duties that year. 

Harry was in New York City on Monday at the time of the evacuation order for the launch of his new tell-all memoir Spare. It was unclear where Meghan and the couple’s two children are, or whether they have evacuated from the home.

Spokespeople for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are yet to respond to a request for comment from the MailOnline on whether they have been forced to leave.

Jamie McLeod’s property was under the Montecito evacuation order, but she said there was no way for her to ‘get off the mountain’ with a rushing creek on one side and a mudslide on the other. 

The 60-year-old owner of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary said one of her employees came to make a weekly food delivery and also became stuck.

McLeod said she feels fortunate because her home sits on high ground and the power is still on. But she tires of the frequent evacuation orders since the massive wildfire followed by the deadly landslide five years ago.

‘It is not easy to relocate,’ McLeod said. ‘I totally love it, except in catastrophe.’

Meanwhile, as authorities ordered about ten thousand residents in the Santa Barbara County community to evacuate, they also confirmed the deaths of 14 people.

The five-year-old boy who was swept away is not included in the rolling death toll, as his fate is currently unknown, according to WION news.

Pictured: A vehicle is seen sunken into the mud after the driver, a Santa Barbara Photojournalist, attempted to evacuate from her home

Pictured: A vehicle is seen sunken into the mud after the driver, a Santa Barbara Photojournalist, attempted to evacuate from her home

Pictured: The Suburu Forester is seen sunken into the mud near Santa Barbara

Pictured: The Suburu Forester is seen sunken into the mud near Santa Barbara

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's California home (pictured) is found in Montecito, which is currently under an evacuation order from authorities

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s California home (pictured) is found in Montecito, which is currently under an evacuation order from authorities

Rescuers were forced to call off the search for the boy who, was swept up in the floodwaters. The search efforts were called off at around 3pm on Monday because the current and rising water levels of the Salinas River in northern California were too dangerous for drivers.

Authorities say the boy’s mother was driving a white truck Monday morning when it became stranded in the floodwaters near Paso Robles.

Bystanders were able to pull the mother out of the truck, Tom Swanson, the assistant chief of CalFire/ the San Luis Obispo Fire Department said. But the boy was carried out of the vehicle and swept downstream.

Firefighters later found one of the boy’s shoes, but crews were still not able to locate the child more than five hours later.

But authorities are not yet declaring the boy dead.  

Emergency authorities Montecito, which lies 90 minutes from Los Angeles, said anyone in the area should get out.

‘LEAVE NOW! This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please pay close attention to emergency alerts,’ a fire department website said.

Reporters on the ground said police roadblocks had been set up to prevent people from getting into the town, where several roads were flooded.

Residents could be seen leaving the area, but power remained on and at least one store was still open late Monday.

Montecito, whose multi-million dollar properties are perched in breathtaking California countryside, is particularly vulnerable to mudslides because it sits at the foot of a mountain range that was ravaged by fire five years ago.

Hundreds of square miles of land were scorched in 2017 and 2018, denuding the hillsides of the vegetation that normally keeps soil in place. 

In a video on Monday, Ellen DeGeneres braved treacherous conditions outside her in the town to show the ‘unprecedented rain’ the town is being hammered with.

Ellen DeGeneres urged people to 'be kind to Mother Nature' as she documented in a video (pictured) how the creek next to her Montecito home was overflowing Monday night

Ellen DeGeneres urged people to ‘be kind to Mother Nature’ as she documented in a video (pictured) how the creek next to her Montecito home was overflowing Monday night

Santa Barbara County residents have been ordered to shelter in place by officials (pictured)

Santa Barbara County residents have been ordered to shelter in place by officials (pictured)

Brown water is seen gushing from gardens and homes in Montecito on Monday

Brown water is seen gushing from gardens and homes in Montecito on Monday

One road in the A-Lister town was completely flooded with rainwater (pictured), acting as a river, as residents were ordered to shelter in place

One road in the A-Lister town was completely flooded with rainwater (pictured), acting as a river, as residents were ordered to shelter in place

Pictured: Emergency crews on the scene in Montecito Monday assessing the flooded roads

Pictured: Emergency crews on the scene in Montecito Monday assessing the flooded roads

Wearing just a gray sweatshirt, the comedian showed how a creek next to her home was raging during the powerful storm — blaming it on climate change.

‘The creek next to our home never floods, never,’ she said, revealing: ‘It’s probably about 9 feet up. We need to be nicer to Mother Nature, cause Mother Nature’s not happy with us,’ she continued.

DeGeneres said her home is on high ground so she was allowed to shelter in place. All residents in the larger Santa Barbara County, home to Montecito, were ordered to shelter in place as well. 

Monday’s evacuation order came five years to the day after heavy rain had sent torrents of mud into the town, killing 23 people.

‘Over the last 30 days, Montecito has received 12-20+ inches of rain across the community, exceeding our yearly average of 17 inches,’ Montecito Fire said on Twitter on Monday. ‘This cumulative, saturating rain puts the community at greater risk of flooding and debris flow.’

The orders come as the state continues to see damage from a series of atmospheric rivers and storms which have left many trapped in their homes, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced.

On Monday, the death toll from the storm rose to 14 when the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services reported that two more people died from falling trees. One was a homeless person in Sacramento and the other was inside their home.

Meanwhile, the number of people without electricity in the Golden State declined to 92,000 Monday evening after reaching 137,000 people without power earlier in the day, when wind speeds upwards of 60 miles per hour caused trees and powerlines to fall.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are two of Montecito's most notable residents. Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Rob Lowe and Larry David also live in the area

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are two of Montecito’s most notable residents. Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Rob Lowe and Larry David also live in the area

Last week: Prince Harry was spotted in Montecito walking his dog in a torrential rainstorm

Last week: Prince Harry was spotted in Montecito walking his dog in a torrential rainstorm

Pictured: Prince Harry is spotted in Montecito walking his dog near a beach last week

Pictured: Prince Harry is spotted in Montecito walking his dog near a beach last week

The National Weather Service has now said that at least eight inches of rain fell over the past 12 hours with several more inches of rain still on the way.

California remains under a state of emergency, and President Joe Biden has vowed to send emergency services to the area. 

Along with Montecito, Toro Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, and Padaro Lane were ordered to leave. 

‘Leave now,’ the official Santa Barbara County emergency website states. 

All other Santa Barbara County residents are being told to stay where they are for the time being.  

‘SHELTER IN PLACE. Flooding, Santa Barbara County impact areas. Go to innermost room or high ground. DO NOT attempt to leave. If already evacuated, remain out of the area,’ a tweet from the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management reads.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the decision to evacuate narly 10.000 people was ‘based on the continuing high rate of rainfall with no indication that that is going to change before nightfall.’

He noted that creeks were overflowing and many roads were flooded. 

The orders come five years to the day after 23 people in Montecito were killed in a mudslide, one journalist on Twitter pointed out.

The heavy rain and winds have caused disastrous conditions out on the water in Santa Barbara County. Pictured: Boats are seen on a choppy ocean on January 6 off the coast of California

The heavy rain and winds have caused disastrous conditions out on the water in Santa Barbara County. Pictured: Boats are seen on a choppy ocean on January 6 off the coast of California

The orders come five years to the day after 23 people in Montecito were killed in a mudslide, one journalist on Twitter pointed out

The orders come five years to the day after 23 people in Montecito were killed in a mudslide, one journalist on Twitter pointed out

This is the second evacuation order for the Southern California area in a week. 

On Wednesday evening, an order was issued for the Alisal, Thomas, and Cave fire burn areas over mudslide concerns. The area continues to be one of two Southern California counties expected to see the heaviest rainfall. 

 

The storms are so severe in some areas school districts canceled classes, including the Sacramento City Unified School District, which had six campuses without electricity completely, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The entrance to the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (pictured) was completely flooded on Monday

The entrance to the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (pictured) was completely flooded on Monday

The heavy rainfall has left Santa Barbara residents trapped inside their home as they were ordered shelter in place

The heavy rainfall has left Santa Barbara residents trapped inside their home as they were ordered shelter in place

The National Weather Service warned of a 'relentless parade of atmospheric rivers'

The National Weather Service warned of a ‘relentless parade of atmospheric rivers’

The National Weather Service warned of a ‘relentless parade of atmospheric rivers’ – storms that are long plumes of moisture stretching out into the Pacific and are capable of dropping staggering amounts of rain and snow. 

Two major storms are expected to drop heavy rainfall on the coast and snow in the mountains over the next couple of days.

A swathe of the Golden State was under flood warnings, as it struggled to cope with yet more rain on top of near-record downpours in recent weeks – with even more forecast over the coming days.

‘Two major episodes of heavy rain and heavy mountain snow are expected to impact California in quick succession during the next couple of days in association with two of the more energetic and moisture-laden parade of cyclones that are aiming directly for’ the state, the National Weather Service said.

Up to five inches of rain could fall throughout Monday in coastal regions of central California, the NWS said.

More rain will follow on Tuesday, while the Sierra Nevada mountains could get hit with up to six feet of snow, making for hazardous conditions.

Governor Gavin Newsom said 12 people had died over the last 10 days.

Last week he declared a state of emergency and on Sunday was granted a presidential emergency declaration.

‘We expect to see the worst of it still ahead of us,’ Newsom told reporters.

Almost 80,000 homes were without power in the state on Monday.

Biden’s emergency declaration now provides state and local officials with resources and help for counties hit hardest by the storms, which include: El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura counties. 

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will also authorize equipment and resources to the state for assistance. 

Governor Gavin Newsom thanked President Joe Biden Monday for declaring an emergency in the state, which gives California access to emergency resources

Governor Gavin Newsom thanked President Joe Biden Monday for declaring an emergency in the state, which gives California access to emergency resources 

Nearly the entire state is expected to see 'excessive rainfall' according to Weather.com

Nearly the entire state is expected to see ‘excessive rainfall’ according to Weather.com 

Newsom in a tweet Monday thanked Biden for his ‘swift approval’ of the emergency declaration for the state. 

The governor said his office had been in constant contact with the White House and this will help the state get ahead of the incoming storms and subsequent damage. 

‘We know what’s coming and anticipating we’re better off getting ahead of it than waiting for the actual event to occur,’ Newsom said. 

‘In so many ways, I think it’s a preview of what’s to come,’ the governor continued. 

An East Sacramento resident crosses the street in front of a tree blocking H Street near 36th Street in Sacramento

An East Sacramento resident crosses the street in front of a tree blocking H Street near 36th Street in Sacramento

A tree collapsed and ripped up the sidewalk damaging a home in Sacramento

A tree collapsed and ripped up the sidewalk damaging a home in Sacramento

President Joe Biden Sunday evening signed an emergency declaration for California

President Joe Biden Sunday evening signed an emergency declaration for California 

While heavy rain is not unusual for California during the winter, these downpours are testing the state.

They come as much of the western US is more than two decades into a punishing drought that has seen a large increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

Scientists say human-caused climate change, brought about by the unchecked burning of fossil fuels, has supercharged these wild swings in weather, making droughts more severe and rainfall more intense when it does occur.

Even the recent heavy rains have not been enough to reverse the drought.

Scientists say several years of above-average rainfall are needed to get reservoirs back to healthy levels. 

Damage to a jetty is seen in Capitola Wharf following a powerful winter storm on January 6, 2023 in Capitola, California

Damage to a jetty is seen in Capitola Wharf following a powerful winter storm on January 6, 2023 in Capitola, California

Pictured: A man wades through knee deep water in a California neighborhood

Pictured: A man wades through knee deep water in a California neighborhood

Pictured: A man runs from the spray of waves hitting and going over the breakwall of Redondo Beach, CA, Harbor, in the wake of a storm that cleared the south bay community of Los Angeles County, Thursday, January 5, 2023

Pictured: A man runs from the spray of waves hitting and going over the breakwall of Redondo Beach, CA, Harbor, in the wake of a storm that cleared the south bay community of Los Angeles County, Thursday, January 5, 2023

What is causing the storms in California? 

An emergency has been called in California following more than 10 days of storms across the state, claiming the lives of 14 people. 

Torrential downpours have caused rivers to overflow, submerged vehicles and caused power outages.

For more than a week now, the state has been facing the brunt of two overlapping weather systems – atmospheric rivers and bomb cyclones, causing an extreme weather phenomena.

What is an atmospheric river?

The torrential downpours are being spurred on by an atmospheric river – an airborne band of moisture that can stretch 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) long and 350 miles (563 kilometres) wide. 

The atmospheric river is caused by moisture in the ocean and can move for thousands of miles before its downpour, which can result in severe flooding or landslides.

This particular river is the result of moisture from near Hawaii, formed after warm water evaporated off the Pacific, before it moved to the West Coast.

Once in the air, the river is carried by the wind over mountains before falling as rain or snow.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service warned of a ‘relentless parade of atmospheric rivers’.

The torrential downpours are being spurred on by an atmospheric river - an airborne band of moisture that can stretch 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) long and 350 miles (563 kilometres) wide

The torrential downpours are being spurred on by an atmospheric river – an airborne band of moisture that can stretch 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) long and 350 miles (563 kilometres) wide

What are bomb cyclones? 

Bomb cyclones are low pressured storm systems that help move atmospheric rivers, causing extreme weather effects.

They are caused by a mixture of high and low temperatures, causing a rise and fall in air pressure, resulting in harsh storms and strong winds.

It is called a bomb cyclone as meteorologists have linked the sudden drop in pressure to a bomb going off.

Other terms to describe it include ‘explosive cyclogenesis’ and ‘bombogenesis’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk