As California begins to clean up from the weekend’s ferocious storms courtesy of an atmospheric river that overtook the state from Saturday until Monday, the price of the intense storm is starting to emerge.
The state saw record rainfall and heavy snow along with winds that were hurricane force at times, with some gusts reaching 160 mph. Downtown Los Angeles received over seven inches of rain, while the mountains west of the city got up to 10 inches. At least two people died as a result of the weather, which also caused mudslides, flooding, downed trees, and damages to homes and businesses.
Now an estimate from AccuWeather puts the damage through the state at between $9 billion and $11 billion. That’s due to damages to homes, businesses, roadways and infrastructure.
Much of that will be paid out of pocket. As few as 2% of California homeowners have flood insurance, which also includes damages from mudslides and downed trees. Fire insurance is required by the state, but flood insurance is not.
The atmospheric river brought over 100 mudslides to the state. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in eight counties, including Los Angeles and San Diego. Over 1 million people lost power during the storms. The higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountains saw up to six feet of snow.
The preliminary estimate is as high as it is due to the storm hitting homes and businesses in well-populated areas, which include some of the most expensive homes in the state.
If it proves true, it will make this single meteorological event significantly more expensive than all of last winter’s atmospheric rivers, which were responsible for a total of $4.6 billion in damages.