A powerful storm hits California

Heavy snow covers one of the areas of California. AFP

A new powerful storm has hit the US state of California, forcing thousands from their homes, killing at least two people and cracking a dam in the coastal county of Monterey.

Monterey County official Luis Alieux said on Twitter: "We had hoped to avoid this situation but the worst-case scenario occurred with the Bajaro River flooding and the dam cracking around midnight."

Residents confirmed to AFP that local fire officials asked them in the middle of the night to evacuate their homes, explaining that they woke up to the noise of sirens, and officials knocked on their doors several times to leave as floodwaters rose.

Images posted on Twitter showed guards rescuing residents trapped in their cars due to rising waters, at least one road damaged in Santa Cruz County, north of Monterrey, and evacuation orders for residents of several towns, mostly in the north.

The fire department used drones to scan flooded areas and search for stranded people.