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The second of two atmospheric rivers that hit California on Sunday flooded roads and knocked out power to over 845,000 people. This prompted a rare hurricane-force wind warning as the state prepared for days of heavy rainfall.
Atmospheric Rivers are storms that look like rivers in the sky. They can cause flooding and mudslides, and even result in death and property damage.
Sunday’s storm flooded streets, brought down trees and electrical wires in the San Francisco Bay Area where winds reached 96 km/h. Gusts exceeding 128 km/h were recorded in the mountains.
Just to the south, in San Jose (California), emergency crews rescued homeless people from a camp along a rising stream and pulled car occupants from the windows.
In Southern California officials warned about potentially devastating flooding. They ordered evacuations of canyons affected by recent wildfires, which are at a high risk for mudslides and debris flows. The U.S. National Weather Service Los Angeles office warned that “all is set for one of the most dramatic days in recent history.”
According to poweroutage.us, there were nearly 846,000 people without electricity in the state by Sunday night, with the majority of the outages occurring along coastal regions.
Storm Prediction Center stated that there was a low risk for waterspouts to come ashore in six San Francisco Bay Area counties and become tornadoes. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the last time the Storm Prediction Center forecasted a risk of tornadoes in the area was in February 2015.
San Francisco International Airport was plagued by delays for hours due to wind. FlightAware, which tracks flights, reported that by 2:30 pm Sunday, 155 departures were delayed, and 69 were cancelled.
A large part of the state was drying out after the system that blew through last week, causing floods and dumping snow in the mountains. The latest storm, which is also called “Pineapple Express,” arrived in Northern California offshore on Saturday when the entire state was under a wind-surf or flood watch.
The weather service issued a rare “hurricane wind warning” on Sunday for the Central Coast. Wind gusts up to 148 km/h are possible from the Monterey Peninsula northward to the northern part of San Luis Obispo County.
A meteorologist with the Los Angeles-area weather service, Ryan Kittell, said that Southern California was at high risk of flooding because the system was moving so slowly.
“The core low pressure system moves very slowly, and is very near us. This is why we are experiencing such strong winds. “The slowness of it gives us the highest rainfall and flooding risks,” he said in a Sunday press briefing.
The counties of Monterey (county), Santa Barbara (county), Ventura, and Los Angeles all issued evacuation orders and warnings for the mountain and canyon areas. Lindsay Horvath, LA County Supervisor, urged residents in the Topanga and Soledad Canyons near wildfire burn areas to obey evacuation orders before mudslides could occur. The county has set up shelters in which evacuees can spend the night.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state-of-emergency for Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, San Diego county, Santa Barbara county, and Ventura county on Sunday. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services activated their operations center and placed personnel and equipment where they were most needed.
The storm is expected to move along the coast late Sunday and bring heavy rainfall, possible flash floods, and mountain-snow to the Los Angeles region, before moving onto Orange and San Diego Counties on Monday.
The weather service forecast up to 20 cm of rainfall across Southern California’s coastal and valley areas, with 35 cm possible in the foothills and mountains. Southern California will experience heavy to moderate rainfall until Tuesday.