The star-studded California town of Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle was ordered to evacuate on Monday as firefighters warned mudslides could engulf the mansion.
Montecito, also a favorite of US entertainment royalty such as Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston, can expect up to 20 centimeters (eight inches) of rain in 24 hours – Hillside It has been drenched by weeks of downpours.
Emergency services in the town, 90 minutes from Los Angeles, said anyone in the area should leave.
“Get out now! This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please pay close attention to emergency sirens,” the fire department website said.
The town’s multimillion-dollar properties sit in the stunning California countryside and are particularly prone to mudslides because it sits at the foot of mountains that were destroyed by fire five years ago.
In 2017 and 2018, hundreds of square miles (kilometers) were scorched and stripped of the vegetation that normally holds soil on hillsides.
Without trees and shrubs, the rain can quickly become unpredictable.
“Over the past 30 days, the entire community of Montecito has received over 12-20 inches of rain, exceeding our annual average of 17 inches,” the Montecito Fire said on Twitter.
“This accumulated, saturated stormwater puts communities at greater risk of flooding and mudslides.”
Former talk show host Ellen DeGeneres posted a video on Twitter that went viral.
Montecito is being evacuated. We were on higher ground, so they asked us to shelter in place. Please be safe everyone. pic.twitter.com/7dv5wfNSzG
— Ellen DeGeneres (@EllenDeGeneres) January 9, 2023
“It’s crazy,” she told followers.
“The creek next to our house never flows. It’s probably nine feet higher and it’s going to run another two feet.
It’s unclear how many residents of the town — including Larry David, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Rob Lowe — heeded the call to flee.
The evacuation order for Montecito comes as California is battered by the latest wave of storms that have killed 12 people.
Large swaths of the Golden State were under flood warnings as it struggled to handle more than the near-record torrential downpours in recent weeks — and more is expected in the coming days.
“During the next few days, two bouts of heavy rain and snow are expected to impact California, along with two more energetic and wetter cyclones aimed directly at the state,” the National Weather Service said.
California’s central coast could see up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain throughout Monday, the NWS said.
More rain is expected on Tuesday, including in the southern part of the state, while the Sierra Nevada could receive up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) of snow, creating dangerous conditions.
Governor Gavin Newsom said 12 people had died in the past 10 days.
Last week, he declared a state of emergency and on Sunday asked the president to declare one, which was approved.
“We expect the worst is yet to come,” Newsom told reporters.
More than 100,000 homes were without power on Monday.
“The cumulative effect of successive heavy rainfall events will lead to more flooding events,” the NWS warned.
“This includes the potential for rapid water rises, mudslides and large river flooding. Areas near susceptible terrain and recent burn scars are most prone to mudslides and rapid runoff.”
– Drought torrential rain –
While heavy rain in California during the winter is not uncommon, these downpours are testing the state.
For more than two decades, much of the western United States has experienced severe drought, and wildfires have increased in frequency and intensity.
Anthropogenic climate change caused by the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels exacerbates these wild weather swings, making wetter air and drier air, scientists say.
Last week’s storm near San Francisco caused extensive flooding and left tens of thousands without power.
That came after a violent downpour on New Year’s Eve that left the ground soggy and waterlogged.
But even the recent heavy rains have not been enough to turn the drought around.
Scientists say it will take several years of above-average rainfall to restore the reservoirs to healthy levels.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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