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Millions under flood watch as latest storms batter California

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Nineteen people are dead in California and millions more are under flood watches through Monday evening as the storm-ravaged state faces one more round of heavy rain and potential mudslides.

With another storm expected to douse Southern California through early Tuesday morning — leaving what some forecasters say could be over 6 inches of snow — 8 million residents in the Central California region are under flood watches through Monday night.

Officials with the California Geological Survey say the rainfall could bring even more flooding and landslides to the state, which has had over 400 landslides since the end of December.

As of Monday, the series of storms has killed 19 people since Christmas, when the heavy storms first started, including a child who was killed after a tree fell on a home.

Rescue crews, meanwhile, are still searching for a 5-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters in San Luis Obispo County on Jan. 9.

More than 175 people living at a mobile home park in San Joaquin County had to be evacuated Sunday after the site was flooded, according to sheriff’s officials. 

Evacuation warnings were issued Sunday evening for residents in the Central Coast near the Carmel River in Monterey County. 

Residents in the Matilija Canyon area of Ventura County were ordered Sunday to evacuate after getting more than 17 inches of rain the previous week. 

“Towering piles of rock and mud reach over 40 feet tall in some locations, blocking access to roadways and leaving residents isolated to the canyon,” a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said Sunday.

In addition to more rain, the Sierra Nevada mountains are expected to see up to another 2 feet of snow on top of several more feet of snow from the previous weeks. Mountains in Southern California could get as much as 6 inches of fresh snowfall.

According to the National Weather Service (NSW), heavy snowfall and strong winds in the mountains of Central and Southern California could bring whiteout conditions and “dangerous to near impossible travel” in some areas.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the White House approved a request for a major disaster declaration and pledged to “continue to work in lockstep with local, state and federal partners to help keep Californians safe and make sure our communities have the resources and assistance they need to rebuild and recover.”

By midweek, things should slow down and give California a much-need respite, according to the NSW, with a stretch of dry weather expected at least through the weekend.

However, as David Lawrence of the NWS said, “Just because we’re expecting dry weather later in the week, we still do have the potential of flooding with that heavy rain the next couple of days.”

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