The third Atmospheric River storm has killed at least two people and left tens of thousands without power in California.
Following a huge Pacific storm, the state was battered by torrential rain, strong winds and snow for a second straight day, with much of the state under threat of flash floods and mudslides.
The storm was driven by two phenomena: huge streams of high-density water vapor from the ocean, called atmospheric rivers — and spreading hurricanes, low-pressure systems called bomb cyclones.
The latest extreme winter weather marks the third and strongest atmospheric river to hit California since early last week.
At least two people have died since January 4. A tree crashed into a house overnight, killing a 1-year-old boy and a 19-year-old woman when her car slid off a partially flooded road and hit a utility pole.
At least two more back-to-back storms are expected in the coming days.
On Friday morning, the NWS warned that the next “atmospheric river march” would arrive later today, while “additional flooding and heavy snow is expected in the Sierras.”
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Areas such as the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento state capital are still recovering from flood damage. Levees along the Consumnes River were breached.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) per hour of rain and 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) per hour of snow along Southern California’s coast and Sierra Nevada.
The state, home to more than 39 million people, has issued Severe Wind Warnings and High Wind Warnings up and down the state.
Uprooted trees, already weakened by drought and rain-soaked soil, knocked down power lines and blocked roads, while three-story waves crashed into the northernmost coastal counties – Mendocino, Humboldt and the coastline of Del Norte.
As many as 18,000 homes were without power early Thursday, Poweroutage.us reported.
Megan McFarlane, a spokeswoman for Pacific Gas and Electric, the region’s main utility, said it was “one of the most powerful winter storms to hit our region in years.”
Four more people died in the New Year’s weekend storm that swept through northern California — three flood victims were found in or near their cars and an elderly man was found dead under a fallen tree.
mandatory evacuation order It is already in effect in several cities in Northern California, including Richmond in the Bay Area and Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.