New Year’s Eve in California this year was marked by a torrential storm across much of the state. Many parts of the state were under flash flood warnings for the New Year, and Sacramento was no exception. South of Elk Grove, a levee broke on the Cosumnes River, causing a flood that closed Highway 99. Authorities confirmed that at least one person died as a result of the flooding. The storm also knocked out power for around 6,000 Sacramento residents.
The weather phenomenon that California endured is called an “atmospheric river,” and with good reason. It caused levee breaks in multiple parts of Sacramento County. Interestingly, the floods the storm caused didn’t set a record for high water marks in the state. In fact, the record was also set on New Year’s weekend in 1997. Still, the waters did cause a lot of problems.
Highway 99 Flood Killed One, Possibly More
After the Cosumnes River began to flood, authorities had to spring into action quickly. They found multiple vehicles completely submerged in the floodwaters. There were people, including families, sitting on top of their vehicles to stay out of the flooding. Some were suffering from hypothermia. Rescue personnel found one person dead in their car and are still searching for others.
Authorities ordered residents of nearby Wilton to evacuate the area on Saturday. Some of those residents wound up trapped on Highway 99. Within a few hours of the original evacuation order, the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services issued a different order: stay in place.
As of Monday morning, Highway 99 was open once again. However, that may be a short-term situation. The National Weather Service said on Tuesday that it expects further storms throughout the next week. It anticipates that some will likely lose their lives, especially if officials can’t repair the levees for the rivers in the area.