Downpours on Two Coasts Threaten Holiday Travel

Northeast deals with power outages and flooding, while California worries about flooding and slides
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2023 7:30 PM CST
Rainstorms in Maine, California May Complicate Holiday Travel
Southbound lanes on US Highway 101 in South San Francisco flood during a storm Wednesday.   (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group via AP)

A heavy storm that hit northern New England on Monday has left lingering dangerous flooding and widespread power outages to Maine, leaving hundreds of thousands in the dark, closing ski resorts, washing out roads, closing bridges, and causing families to throw away spoiled holiday food. It's unclear when everyone will have power back, the AP reports, but officials and utilities in the state have said some will have to wait until Christmas. On Wednesday, heavy rains drenched parts of California, bringing the threat of flooding and mudslides, the National Weather Service said. The storms have put holiday plans and travel at risk on both coasts.

People across the Northeast were still mopping up Wednesday after the storm dumped torrential rains and brought damaging winds from Pennsylvania to Maine, as some rivers in the region rose even higher. Some of the worst damage was in Vermont and Maine. At least five people in East Coast states were killed in the storms, with deaths reported in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Maine. Maine Gov. Janet Mills said water levels were expected to drop in the coming days but remained dangerously high and posed a serious risk in many parts of the state. Mills urged people in heavily impacted areas to avoid travel. "It can't be ignored that this storm arrives just a few days before Christmas, a time of joy," Mills said. "For many in Maine that may no longer be the case. People dealing with the loss of their homes and damage to property."

The Pacific storm centered offshore was moving southeast, sending bands of rain ashore and hitting particularly hard on California's central coast after sweeping through the San Francisco Bay Area. Flood watches were posted all the way south to San Diego, per the AP, accompanied by warnings of a high risk of roadway flooding that could prompt travel delays, as well as rockslides, mudslides, and debris flows from wildfire burn scars. The severe weather could pose a problem for some of the 9.5 million people in Southern California the Automobile Club predicts will travel over for the holidays. A boutique manager in Montecito said the deluge prompted customers to come in Wednesday to do all their holiday shopping in one stop. "They're coming in and just want to get it over with," she said. (More rainstorms stories.)

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