Severe storms ravaged California with hailstones the size of quarters and distastrous floods which saw 10,000 people evacuated from their homes on Saturday – as an uncommon tornado warning was broadcast for Fresno County.
Funnel clouds were spotted in the heart of California’s Gold Rush on Saturday afternoon and the weather service issued a tornado warning for the Sierra Nevada foothills as severe thunderstorms, hail and high winds blanketed
A set of tornado warnings were briefly issued in Fresno County, nearly 100 miles south of Gold Country, as California continues to be drenched by storms.
Multiple people in the Fresno area posted photos of themselves holding hailstones the size of quarters, with a couple using the hashtag ‘What the hail?!’.
Flash flooding cautions were implemented late Saturday in Tuolumne County, with roads submerged around Sonora and neighboring communities.
There were no pressing reports of injuries or damage from the hail or the tornado threats Saturday.
This week’s storm signaled the state’s 10th atmospheric river of the winter, storms that have brought huge amounts of rain and snow to the state and helped alleviate the drought conditions that had afflicted the state three years.
State reservoirs that had fallen to strikingly low levels are now well above the average for this time of year, motivating state officials to release water from dams to assist with flood control and make room for even more rain.
Across the state on Saturday, Californians contended with torrential rains and rising water levels in the atmospheric river’s aftermath.
Across the Central Coast’s Monterey County, more than 8,500 people were under evacuation orders and warnings Saturday, including roughly 1,700 residents – many of them Latino farmworkers – from the unincorporated community of Pajaro.
Officials said the Pajaro River’s levee breach is about 100 feet wide. Crews had gone door to door Friday afternoon to encourage residents to evacuate before the rains came but some remained and had to be rescued from floodwaters early Saturday.
First responders and the California National Guard rescued more than 50 people overnight. One video showed a member of the Guard helping a driver out of a car trapped by water up to their waists.
In Tulare County, the sheriff ordered residents who live near the Tule River to evacuate, while people near the Poso Creek in Kern County were under an evacuation warning.
The National Weather Service’s meteorologists issued flood warnings and advisories, begging motorists to stay off deluged roadways.
— Jonathan Petramala (@jpetramala) March 12, 2023
Hail with a backdrop of rainbows and almond blooms is not a view you see every day in California! pic.twitter.com/PyfJWMm61w
— WeatherNation (@WeatherNation) March 12, 2023