Latest California storm kills 5 with fallen trees in Bay Area


A train passes as floodwaters from the Tule River inundate the area after days of heavy rain in Corcoran, California, U.S., March 22, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

On Wednesday, authorities recorded at least five storm-related deaths in and around San Francisco, all due to downed trees. The latest round of severe winter weather to strike California drifted into neighbouring states in the Desert Southwest.

While California's onslaught of rain, wind, and mountain snow abated, toppled power lines from Tuesday's storm left more than 92,000 homes and businesses without power as of Wednesday afternoon, and persistent floodwaters forced 14,000 people to evacuate.

According to California Office of Emergency Services spokesperson Diana Crofts-Pelayo, about 48,000 additional California residents have been told to be prepared to evacuate to higher land if rain-swollen streams exceed their banks or storm-damaged levees break.

Most mandatory evacuation orders, affecting over 12,000 people, were issued in Tulare County, a flood-ravaged region in the San Joaquin Valley where previous levee collapses have submerged numerous villages with high water.

The storm resulted from another in a recent series of "atmospheric rivers," which are enormous airborne currents of thick water vapour pushed aloft from the ocean and pouring overland during heavy rainfall and snowfall.

It was the eleventh storm to strike the West Coast since late December, the most recent one notable for the high gusts that accompanied the precipitation and, in some locations, caused the most destruction.

Tuesday, trees brought down by heavy winds in the Bay Area of California claimed the lives of five people: two in San Francisco, one in Oakland, and one each in Contra Costa County and San Mateo County, according to reports from local officials and media outlets.

At least two victims perished in their automobiles, while another was crushed in a tent.

More than twenty additional storm-related fatalities have been recorded in California this winter due to earlier harsh weather.

After weeks of rain, uprooted trees susceptible to the gale-force winds that raged over the state were common in the Bay area.

According to city officials, early reports totalled more than 700 fallen trees and large branches in San Francisco and pieces of smashed glass and other debris being blown off high-rise towers.

In the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello, a rare tornado spawned by the storm early Wednesday morning severely damaged nearly a dozen buildings and several vehicles and left one person with minor injuries, according to the National Weather Service and local authorities, as reported by the Los Angeles City News Service.

According to CNS, the Los Angeles region saw some of the most significant rainfall from the recent storm. Records for the date were set in downtown L.A., suburban Burbank, and neighbouring Long Beach, which received well over an inch of rain on Tuesday.

In higher elevations, the storm caused considerable snowfall. The weather service predicted total snowfall accumulations of up to 4 feet (1.22 meters) and locally up to 5 feet.

The unusually wet winter in California delivered a sudden reversal of fortune for a state plagued by drought and wildfires in recent years - a swing in weather extremes that experts say indicates human-caused climate change.

The abundance of precipitation has restored severely depleted reservoirs and the state's alpine snowpack.

While rain, snow, and winds abated throughout California on Wednesday, the storm front advanced eastward across portions of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, according to the National Weather Service.

Publish : 2023-03-23 10:36:00

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