So, from my couch in France, I actually have a better sense of what's chaotic and what's not in California than I do right outside my back door. I woke up to an "Orange Alert" in my area - and I realized that I had NO idea what that really meant! Well, I looked around a bit, and found something of an explanation - I still have no real sense of what to do or expect, but, for today, our orange alert seems to be in place because we have had rain for a few days, more is expected, and along the coast, we have high tides and high winds - so possible flooding.
This is a quote from the (Irish!) weather bureau*:
"This category of ORANGE level weather warnings is for weather conditions which have the capacity to impact significantly on people in the affected areas. The issue of an Orange level weather warning implies that all recipients in the affected areas should prepare themselves in an appropriate way for the anticipated conditions."
Hmm - so flooding. Prepare to move to higher ground. Well, most of our stuff is still in suitcases - check. We're in an apartment building, with easy access to higher floors - check. But! We're currently on the ground floor, and it slopes down a bit from the very short sea wall - ack! We have a car - check! But lowlands, canals, and bridges are between us and high ground - ack! And I'm not sure where we would even go - ack!? Or when?
Oh yes! I do have the SAIP** app on my phone - it has do's and don't's and will alert me if evacuation is necessary. :-)
* France's weather site: http://vigilance.meteofrance.com
Europe weather alerts: http://www.meteoalarm.eu/
Ireland's explanation of alerts: http://www.met.ie/nationalwarnings/warnings-explained.asp
** SAIP which stands for “système d'alerte et d'information des populations” (public alert and information system) is the French Government's location-based alert system