Death toll mounts in California

SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 11: Pacific Ocean waves break near Lighthouse Point on January 11, 2023 in Santa Cruz, California. The San Francisco Bay Area and much of Northern California continues to get drenched by powerful atmospheric river events that have brought high winds and flooding rains. The storms have toppled trees, flooded roads and cut power to tens of thousands. Storms are lined up over the Pacific Ocean and are expected to bring more rain and wind through the end of the week.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Pacific Ocean waves break near Lighthouse Point on January 11, 2023 in Santa Cruz, California. The San Francisco Bay Area and much of Northern California continues to get drenched by powerful atmospheric river events that have brought high winds and flooding rains. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 11:21 AM PT – Wednesday, January 11, 2023

At least 17 people have died in California due to the extreme winter storms that have been battering the state recently.

The storms ravaging California are causing extreme floods, heavy rainfalls, snowfalls, and extremely strong winds. Parts of the state are experiencing power outages and are under evacuation orders.

In a press conference on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) addressed the situation that has been unfolding in his state. He said that the storms have claimed “more lives than wildfires in the past two years combined.”

When addressing the number of deaths, the governor said that the number is “tragically, likely to grow.” 

The deaths have been reported across the entire state, ranging from San Bernardino County in southern California, to Mendocino County in the northern part.

Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said that two kinds of deaths have been the most common. The two situations that are leading to the deaths are trees falling on people, and vehicles getting overwhelmed by floodwater.

The 1990’s was the last time that California had possibly had this much rain at once. In a state where wildfires and earthquakes are more common, the residents are having to learn a new skill due to the storms.

“We haven’t had a flood in a long time,” Ferguson went on. “People have a lot of experience with fires. We’re coming out of years of drought. The public is having to learn a new skill.”

Newsom talked about what he believed to be the cause of the devastation spreading across his state.

“The dries are getting a lot drier the last three years, and the wets are getting a lot wetter. This weather whiplash — is that the new reality?” he told reporters in Santa Cruz County on Tuesday.

Around 44,000 people are under evacuation orders throughout the state as the storms continue.

The last rainfall event with a significant death toll was in 2018, when nearly two dozen people died due to mudslides caused by the storms.