More than 120,000 California homes and businesses were without power Wednesday morning after another atmospheric river walloped the storm-fatigued state with heavy rain and hurricane-force winds, CNN reported.
The storm’s ferocious winds downed trees and damaged power lines across California, where at some point on Tuesday most of the state’s population, more than 35 million people, were under some kind of weather alert, including a brief tornado warning.
Utility company Pacific Gas and Electric said the storm system “exceeded all expectations,” damaging electric infrastructure and knocking out power to thousands. The company said its crews are working as quickly as possible to assess equipment damaged by the storm.
But spokesperson Carina Corral warned that flooding, fallen trees and other obstacles can slow down restoration efforts.
In San Francisco, five people were injured by falling trees at various locations across the city during the storm on Tuesday afternoon, San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Johnathan Baxter said.
The San Francisco International Airport reported a ground delay of more than four hours on average because of high winds, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
In Santa Barbara County, 26 homes were damaged by high winds Tuesday at a mobile home park in Carpinteria. No one was injured but several carports and awnings were damaged, according to Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District.
State transportation officials reported snow and windy conditions in the mountains of Southern California’s Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where officials had recommended residents maintain at least a two-week supply of food, water, medication and fuel ahead of the storm’s arrival.
Many areas across southern California had already received more than 2 inches of rainfall by Tuesday afternoon, with more showers on Wednesday. “This will foster concerns for rapid runoff, flooding and mudslides gave the already wet, saturated soil conditions,” the National Weather Service said.
California has already seen at least 12 atmospheric rivers this winter that ravaged communities, displaced residents and prompted emergency declarations as floodwater inundated neighbourhoods, swelled rivers, damaged roads and sent mud and rocks sliding down hills.
It’s unclear how the climate crisis could be influencing the number of storms that hit the West Coast, but scientists have linked it to an increase in the amount of moisture the atmosphere holds. That means storms, like these atmospheric rivers, are able to bring more moisture inland, leading to an increase in rainfall rates and flash flooding.
Since October 1, Los Angeles has received more than 24 inches of rain — roughly twice as much as it normally gets for this time period. That’s also about 10 inches above its annual average, as the vast majority of California’s rainfall occurs from late fall to early spring.
And it’s not just Los Angeles, cities across the state are seeing very similar numbers.
San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno have all seen 150 to 200 per cent of their normal rainfall since October 1.
While the extreme rainfall has triggered flash flooding, and mudslides and caused damage, it has also significantly increased critical state reservoirs including Lakes Shasta and Oroville, which have risen by more than 100 and 180 feet respectively since December.
The county said it is activating public works employees for 24-hour snow ploughing and storm patrol, having County Flood Control District crews active on split shifts during the storm and adding additional sheriff deputies to routine patrols for the next two weeks. (ANI)