In response to the rapidly evolving storm system expected to drop potentially up to 14 inches of rain, three feet of snow in some mountain areas above 8,000 feet and generate wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour in the mountains and coastal areas, the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) has activated the State Operations Center (SOC) and its Northern Region Emergency Operations Center (REOC) at the agency's headquarters.
According to weather experts, the storm system is likely to cause mud and debris flows in the recent burn areas of Butte, Plumas and Shasta Counties, local power outages due to fallen trees and service lines as well as flooding in areas with poor drainage.
"Meteorologists tell us the storm system is 'rapidly evolving' and that it will be extremely wet the next several days," Cal EMA Secretary Mark Ghilarducci said in a press release Friday morning. "We continue to monitor the situation very closely and remain in regular contact with the National Weather Service and county emergency managers."
"Protecting lives, property and the environment is our top priority," said Ghilarducci. "State and local agencies in California have a significant number of resources we can utilize, including Cal EMA swift water rescue caches based with and staffed by local fire agencies throughout the state, but it's also important that the public assume some of the responsibility for their own safety and that of their families by being prepared."
Ghilarducci reiterated his recommendation that those who haven't already done so develop or update an emergency plan that includes the name and number of an out-of-town contact, identifies potential evacuation routes as well as places to re-unite with loved ones who are separated if and when they are asked to evacuate.
"In addition to having an emergency plan, it's important that every California have battery-operated radios and flashlights, as well as extra batteries, so that they can access the latest weather information and instructions from emergency officials and have a source for light if electricity is unavailable," said Ghilarducci.
It's also important that everyone have a first aid kit and at least a three-day supply of food, water and medications as well as plans for assisting those with access and functional needs, said the Cal EMA Secretary.
Ghilarducci also recommended that the public maintain a full tank of gasoline and a supply of emergency cash in case ATM machines are unavailable.
"It's critical that Californians know the right action to take during the storm system," said Ghilarducci. "First and foremost, listen to the radio and watch television for the latest information about the weather and instructions from local emergency officials. Second, avoid any unnecessary driving, crossing flooded water ways and going near rivers, streams and other areas that are subject to sudden flooding. Third, if you live near a burn area, learn the signs that a mud or debris flow may be imminent. Finally, cooperate fully with law enforcement and other emergency officials. If they tell you it's time to evacuate, do it!"