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California might get a break from the rain that has saturated the state


The latest powerful storm system to hit California brought more flooding, more power outages and evacuations, especially in the central, agriculturally rich part of the state. The storm is moving east, but the ordeal is not over for many rural California communities.

NPR's Jasmine Garsd is joining us now from California with more. Hey there, Jasmine.


KELLY: So it sounds like just a mess. Tell me about conditions in the state right now.

GARSD: It is a mess. Conditions remain serious in many parts of the state. Some cities have experienced these damaging, hurricane-force winds. There's been mudslides. Let me just give you some numbers. Over 140,000 people are without power. San Francisco International Airport recorded a wind gust of 74 mph. That's hurricane-force winds, and firefighters believe that's why glass came falling down from a downtown high-rise building. In Los Angeles, the National Weather Service said the city got just under 2 feet of rain. And statewide, there's still about 27,000 people who are under evacuation orders.

KELLY: Well, and some of those people are under evacuation orders because their towns are completely underwater from the storms. Tell me about some of those places that have been flooded.

GARSD: Yeah. There's been such widespread damage, it's hard to focus on just one area. You know, we've heard about the small town Pajaro, where a levee broke and forced mass evacuations. The Central Valley has also experienced severe flooding, especially communities near the Sierra Nevada foothills. And, you know, these are major agricultural areas. Farming is a multibillion-dollar industry in this state. So even as this storm moves east, these communities are going to be grappling with its effects for some time to come. I mean, both workers and growers - we're going into berry season, which is going to be followed by stone fruit and nut crop season. And we're still waiting to see the full picture of the damage of this storm, but with this kind of flooding and this kind of wind damage, many are worried it's going to be a very difficult time for a lot of California farmers.

KELLY: And it's already been such a difficult time for a lot of California farmers, right?

GARSD: Oh, absolutely. It's felt like it's just one environmental crisis after another for California farmers in the last few years. Working under extreme heat - you have wildfires, drought. I mean, we're being hard-hit by climate change here, and farmers are on the front lines.

KELLY: So what is the forecast? Is there any hope that things are going to start looking up in the short- to medium-term future?

GARSD: Unfortunately, it's not good news. You know, one important thing to highlight is that California's Sierra Nevada mountains - they've gotten historic amounts of snow this year - I mean, the highest level in three decades. Now, when that happens, the runoff of water can be a lot more than just your regular rainy season or your usual snowmelt. And historically, that combination - rain on top of large amounts of snow - has led to some of the U.S.'s most destructive floods. And so California is bracing for some really difficult weather conditions and another atmospheric river next week.

KELLY: And real quick - this is affecting places beyond California, right?

GARSD: Yes. It's already affecting Arizona and Nevada. Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas could get damaging winds, hail and even tornadoes next week.

KELLY: NPR's Jasmine Garsd, joining us there from San Diego. Thank you.

GARSD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.