(CNN) — Still reeling from storms that inundated neighborhoods, forced rescues and damaged roads, storm-battered California is bracing for another atmospheric river that threatens even more flooding Monday.

More than 17 million people remain under flood watches across California and Nevada early Monday as the storm makes its menacing approach — the 11th atmospheric river to hit the West this winter season.

The new storm, arriving on the heels of another atmospheric river, could exacerbate flooding and damage in some places. Already, those in the central and northern parts of California are crowding into shelters and dealing with flooded neighborhoods, along with mudslides, dangerous rushing rivers, collapsed bridges and unusable roads.

At least two people have died as a result of the storms, officials said. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of moisture that carry saturated air thousands of miles like a fire hose.

The next such event first will bring rain and snow to much of Oregon and Washington before sinking south Monday into California. Rainfall totals up to 8 inches are possible across parts of Northern and central California.

Parts of Salinas and other areas of hard-hit Monterey County, south of San Francisco, could get cut off by flooding on the Salinas River, officials warned, urging more residents to prepare to flee.

The storm also could complicate efforts there to repair a levee breach that happened around midnight Friday on the swollen Pajaro River, where evacuation alerts for 5,000 residents could expand.

Water rushed through the more than 120-foot break and into nearby Pajaro, forcing thousands to flee as crews rescued others. Close to 200 rescues due to flooding in the area, Monterey Sheriff Tina Nieto said.

Many Pajaro residents are farm workers who may not only lose property but also the ability to earn a living for some time if the continued flooding impacts agriculture, said Luis Alejo, chair of the Monterey County board of supervisors.

“These are the folks who can least afford this type of hardship,” he said.

Across 12 California counties, nearly 500 people are at 30 shelters, the majority in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, just north of the Monterey area, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Sunday.

President Joe Biden has approved a state of emergency declaration requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom, freeing money for the millions of residents hit with severe weather this year. Newsom on Sunday expanded the declaration to include six additional counties, including Calaveras, Del Norte, Glenn, Kings, San Benito and San Joaquin.

Last atmospheric river turned neighborhoods into lakes

Neighborhoods look like lakes following the severe rainfall that pummeled California over the past few days and pushed rivers and creeks over their banks, images from throughout the state.

California Highway Patrol used a helicopter to help rescue someone trapped in the Salinas River in King City, the agency said in a Facebook post. “The rising river washed a driver and his car away but the driver was able to escape the vehicle and get to an island in the middle of the flooded Salinas River,” the post said.

Similar rescues have played out throughout the state, with California National Guard troops responding with high-water vehicles.

In parts of Kern County — where evacuation orders remain — the flooding was so bad that a shed, a hot tub and full-size trees, complete with root balls, floated down the Kern River in Kernville, a resident said.

“The river is now surrounding some RVs and mobile homes. It’s really unbelievable,” said Danny Housh, who has worked in Kernville for 17 years and said he’s never seen anything like this.

To the north, as Friday’s heavy rains pummeled Santa Cruz County, about 700 residents in Soquel got trapped after a pipe failure collapsed the only road linking the community to the region, said Steve Wiesner, the county’s assistant public works director.

“We are now an island,” resident Molly Watson told CNN.

Another hard hit area was Tulare County, where video from Springville showed devastating damage after Friday’s severe flooding.

“It’s quite heartbreaking,” Hatti Shepard told CNN. “Many hard-working people displaced with losses of home and possessions.”

What to expect Monday as storm moves in

The recent atmospheric rivers are the latest to inundate the state after a barrage of similar storms in December and January also resulted in deadly flooding and widespread damage.

This new wave of storms is bearing down on areas already buried by heavy snowfall from the past two weeks. Melting snowpack will also play a role in prolonging flooding over the upcoming days, forecasters say.

Despite uncertainty on the timing of this system, forecasters know it’ll bring yet another round of heavy precipitation, as well as heavy snowfall for the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

The National Weather Service’s prediction center issued a Level 3 out of 4 risk for excessive rain across northern California on Monday and across portions of the central California coast and Sierra Nevada on Tuesday.

The rain is expected to start intensifying late Monday and the heavy rainfall, combined with the snowmelt, is forecast to fuel more flooding from Tuesday into Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service warned of “considerable flooding impacts” below 5000-foot elevations across large portions of central California into Tuesday.

“In addition, heavy rain and snowmelt may lead to renewed (more widespread) flooding from Monday to Tuesday, particularly in low elevations and shallow and warming snowpack areas,” the National Weather Service said.

Creeks and streams, already overflowing, are expected to continue to be vulnerable to flooding from additional rain and snowmelt.

In Southern California, peak rain rates of up to an inch per hour are expected over the mountains and foothills.

The weather service office in Los Angeles said residents could expect shallow mud and debris flows in recent burn areas, downed trees and powerlines and travel delays due to flooded road and mudslides.

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