Thousands of Californians under evacuation orders as flood threats continue and death toll of recent storms climbs to 17

Thousands of Californians remained under evacuation orders as heavy rainfall continued in parts of the state, threatening more flooding as part of a series of storms that have left at least 17 dead in recent weeks.

Thunderstorms were drenching northern California Tuesday afternoon with more rain expected Wednesday and Thursday. Across the state, more than 20 million people are under flood alerts as the risk of mudslides also spreads to the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.

“Scattered to widespread instances of flash flooding will be possible, especially near steep terrain and burn scars,” the Weather Prediction Center said Tuesday afternoon.

Roughly 34,000 remained under evacuation orders statewide, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

The rain is part of a wave of atmospheric rivers – long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that can transport moisture thousands of miles – that have thrashed the West Coast in the last several weeks. The storms have led to dangerous flooding and mudslides and prompted evacuations across the state, with much of California getting rainfall totals that are 400% to 600% above average in that time.

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