Millions of coastal residents along the Eastern seaboard and in California are facing potentially disastrous storms Monday as deadly winter weather systems continue to churn.
In south Florida, 7 million people remain under tornado watches after storms ravaged the Southeast, killing 18 people and destroying homes across three states.
Heavy rain and strong winds are also expected across the Mid-Atlantic, with gusts near 60 mph possible in New York City.
Meantime, flash flood watches are in effect in the Los Angeles area, with small pockets of the region under mandatory evacuation as heavy downpours have triggered minor mud and debris flows. Storms are blamed for two deaths in California.
West Coast warnings
Weather warnings have been issued for cities across southern California:
• Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County)
– A mandatory evacuation has been issued for the Sand Canyon area impacted by the Sand Fire, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
– A flash flood watch is in effect for the Santa Clarita Valley until Monday evening, the National Weather Service said.
• Duarte (Los Angeles County)
– The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the Fish Fire Impact Area until Monday evening.
– The city has placed 180 homes under mandatory evacuation orders in the Fish Fire Impact Area.
• Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara County)
– An evacuation warning was issued on Saturday for areas burned in last July’s Sherpa Fire, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said.
– A flash flood watch remains in effect throughout the county Sunday into Monday, the National Weather Service said.
Rescue & recovery
Meantime, two people are missing off the coast of Pebble Beach, the US Coast Guard said. Officials said they suspended search efforts after nearly eight hours due to deteriorating weather and unsafe conditions.
In northern California’s Mendocino County, a 125-foot-tall oak tree fell into a single-story apartment, killing a 36-year-old woman on Saturday morning, Capt. Pete Bushby of the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority told CNN.
The woman was in bed with her boyfriend sleeping when the tree fell, officials said. The boyfriend survived, along two children in the home.
The rains weakened the oak tree, and it’s a weather-related death, Bushby said.
Authorities in San Diego County are working to recover the body of an adult from a swollen creek, San Diego Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ryan Keim told CNN on Sunday. Rescuers are also searching for a child in the creek.
“The creek is very swollen with lots of debris,” Keim said.
Deadly Georgia storms
Across the South, communities are set to begin picking up the pieces as rough weather gives way to partly cloudy skies and moderate wind.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in seven southern counties, and he said the state will seek federal assistance to help storm-stricken areas. Fourteen people were confirmed dead across the state.
“These storms have devastated communities and homes in south central Georgia, and the state is making all resources available to the impacted areas,” Deal said in a statement.
One of the most chaotic scenes unfolded Sunday at the Sunshine Acres mobile home park near Adel in Cook County, Georgia.
“You can imagine putting a bomb in a mobile home and having it explode. That’s about what it looks like,” Adel Mayor Buddy Duke said Sunday of Sunshine Acres, a community of about 60 mobile homes some 200 miles south of Atlanta.
One survivor described a few minutes of terror that felt “like a nightmare on Elm Street,” a reference to the popular horror movies. When the howling wind subsided, the landscape was dotted with overturned cars, debris and scores of damaged mobile homes.
Five people remain missing, Duke said.
As the rain and wind intensified Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a rare “high risk” alert for severe thunderstorms, including strong tornadoes, for south Georgia and northern Florida. The alert, which lasted through Sunday evening, was the first of its kind issued since June 2014.
Fatal tornado in Mississippi
Preliminary damage assessments conducted in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Saturday showed a tornado packed winds reaching between 136 and 165 mph.
It killed four people and injured more than 50 people in Forrest County, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reported. Most damage was near the cities of Hattiesburg and Petal.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency.
In Alabama, 15 counties reported storm-related damage. Four people were injured in Choctaw County, said Greg Robinson of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.