On Thursday, California was battered by destructive winds and torrential rains from a potent “atmospheric river,” which also caused flash flooding and killed at least two people, including a kid whose home was struck by a falling tree.
As the powerful storm plowed into the state on Wednesday, authorities issued evacuation orders for a high-risk coastal region where mudslides claimed 23 lives in 2018.
Authorities warned residents to stay inside in preparation for flooded roads, downed trees, and other dangers.
It was the most recent in a rapid series of atmospheric rivers, large plumes of moisture extending far over the Pacific.
This one was a “bomb cyclone,” a revolving area of rapidly decreasing air pressure that had its origins close to Hawaii and was pulling toward the West Coast.
A toddler estimated to be under two years old died Wednesday night in Sonoma County after a tree fell on a residence, according to Occidental Volunteer Fire Chief Ronald Lunardi, as reported by The Press Democrat. Police in Fairfield announced on Facebook that a 19-year-old woman was killed when her car hydroplaned on a flooded road and struck a power pole.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, where there had been flooding warnings, the storm poured rain in some areas.
According to forecasters, the storm was anticipated to reach its peak in Southern California early on Thursday, with Santa Barbara and Ventura counties likely to get the heaviest rainfall.
Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Nancy Ward said, “We predict that this may be one of the most difficult and significant sequences of storms to hit California in the previous five years.”
At a press conference, San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared that the city was “getting ready for a fight” as workers unclogged storm drains, attempted to house the homeless, and distributed emergency supplies and ponchos to those who resisted.
Residents received so many sandbags from the city that the supply briefly ran out.
At the San Francisco International Airport, strong winds with gusts of 85 mph (136 kph) or more resulted in the cancellation of more than 70 flights and felled trees and power lines.
Firefighters saved a family after a tree fell on their car.
Although there were no recorded casualties, the fire department claimed that “huge chunks of glass” fell off the Fox Plaza tower close to the Civic Center.
The agency tweeted that it was “very probable” that wind was to blame for the damage.
According to poweroutage.us, more than 180,000 households and businesses were without electricity in California early Thursday.
The storm is the most recent of three atmospheric river storms to hit the drought-stricken state in the past week.
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, proclaimed a state of emergency to facilitate an immediate response and to aid in the cleanup following another strong storm that struck only a few days before.
Evacuations have been issued for residents of the three recent wildfire-damaged areas in Santa Barbara County, Southern California, where tonight’s heavy rain is predicted to trigger severe flooding and unleash debris flows.
Montecito was one of the communities that received an evacuation order.
Five years prior, massive boulders, mud, and other debris washed down slopes and across the town, demolishing more than 100 homes and killing 23 people.