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The threat of heavy downpours and up to eight feet of snow has left residents in California "in a state of panic", officials have said.
The northern part of the US state is expected to be battered by heavy storms over the weekend, prompting flash flood warnings and fears of mudslides.
Forecasters say the adverse weather is being caused by an atmospheric river - a thin corridor of moisture originating in the tropics.
This is expected to bring up to a foot of rain in Santa Cruz, west California, where sandbags have been handed out to residents.