Flash flooding has sparked an emergency declaration in San Diego after four inches of rain fell in six hours on Monday.
San Diego mayor Todd Gloria declared a state of emergency after homes were inundated and cars were overturned as torrential rain swept through southern California over a roughly six-hour period on Monday.
Flood waters swept away vehicles and caused cars to pile on top of each other, while several feet of water inundated the Mountain View, Shelltown and Southcrest neighbourhoods, as well as multiple highways.
Meanwhile, three inches of rain fell in National City, while San Diego International Airport was hit with two inches of rain – the fifth-highest single-day total for any time of year since the National Weather Service began tracking rainfall totals in 1850, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The San Diego Fire Department performed over 20 emergency rescue operations along the San Diego and Tijuana rivers, with at least eight migrants rescued after they were endangered by the floodwaters of the Tijuana River Valley on the US side, authorities said.
Hundreds of residents in Southcrest also had to be rescued by firefighters as standing water quickly surrounded their apartment complex, according to authorities. No injuries were reported.
Mayor Gloria said a high school in San Diego was being used as a temporary shelter after about 100 homes were in some way affected by the flooding.
Sean Mahoney, regional CEO for the American Red Cross Southern California Region, added that the shelter would be able to house 375 people, providing hot meals and mental health support.
Two homeless centres have also been relocated.
Further up north, the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management issued an evacuation warning near Topanga Canyon effective through Tuesday morning due to possible mud or debris flow.
Mayor Gloria has urged residents to stay off the roads amid the severe weather, which has also caused schools in La Mesa and Spring Valley to close.
“I strongly urge residents to please avoid any flooded areas and any unnecessary travel,” he said in a statement.
Mayor Gloria added that while flooding was “predicted”, the short amount of time that the rain fell in was a “surprise.”
“This weather event was predicted, in terms of rain, but the amount of rain in the short amount of time was a bit of a surprise to, I think, everybody,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Residents were also left in shock by the damage caused to the city in such a short space of time. Eddie Ochoa told the Associated Press he and his sister went out for breakfast on Monday morning and returned to find their entire block was flooded and his sister’s parked car had been washed away.
“All that happened within an hour,” Mr Ochoa said. He added that they later found his sister’s car about three miles down the street.
“It’s never been that bad, ever. It’s crazy,” he said.
Snowfall is also expected across large parts of California on Tuesday. An avalanche warning is in place for the backcountry in the mountains around the Lake Tahoe area, with more than a foot of snow expected in the region, according to the Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee.
Monday’s storm came after an Arctic blast hit much of the US last week, bringing snow, flooding and freezing rain.
Dozens of people (at least 92) are believed to have died from hyperthermia or road deaths caused by the treacherous conditions.
Heavy rain causes flooding in Baja California, Mexico
Emergency service workers had a busy day in Baja California on Monday as heavy rain caused flooding in Tijuana and other parts of the northern border state.
South of Tijuana in the municipality of Playas de Rosarito, 10 people were rescued after their vehicles became submerged in water when a canal overflowed and flooded two main roads, said local Civil Protection chief Arturo García Ames.
In Tijuana, firefighters rescued a woman on Monday morning when her vehicle was swept away by floodwaters on the city’s southside.
The news website Zeta reported that people were rescued in various parts of the northern border city, where many roads were affected by flooding. Two people, one an elderly man, were rescued by firefighters when they got into trouble attempting to cross swollen streams in Tijuana.
By midday, emergency workers in the northern border city had responded to over 200 reports, Zeta said. In addition to flooding, there were reports of landslides and damaged electricity infrastructure in Tijuana.
Miguel Ceballos Ramírez, the city’s Civil Protection chief, said that students and staff were evacuated from two private schools due to flooding. The schools, Colegio Bilingüe Rey and Colegio Alamar, are located in the Alamar district of Tijuana.
The Baja California government subsequently cancelled Monday afternoon and Tuesday classes across the state.
Some houses in Tijuana were also inundated with water, including properties in the Riberas del Bosque neighborhood. A video posted to the X social media platform by NR Noticias showed residents wading through deep water filled with trash.
Municipal authorities set up two shelters for Tijuana residents who were forced to evacuate their homes. Mayor Montserrat Caballero said on Facebook that authorities were clearing “residue that obstructs the passage of water” and “working and monitoring the streets of the city.”
In another post, she assured Tijuana residents that the city’s emergency services were “active.”
Tijuana residents posted photos and videos of the flooding to social media. One showed a man using a container to remove water from a partially submerged car. Another showed a taxi being swept away by fast-moving floodwaters.
The Reforma newspaper reported that the flooding mainly affected the municipalities of Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito and Mexicali, although Ensenada and Tecate also received a significant amount of rain on Monday.
Ceballos said that 1.5 inches (almost 4 centimeters) of rain fell in Tijuana between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.
The National Meteorological Service forecast “intense rains” of 75-150 millimeters for parts of Baja California on Monday.
While flooding was the primary concern, the heavy rain also caused power outages in parts of Baja California, including Tijuana and Playas de Rosarito. Over 35,000 customers were affected, according to the Federal Electricity Commission.
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