Tens of thousands without power in California as latest storm lashes state

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of storm-weary Californians were without power and under evacuation warnings on Wednesday as the latest storm, which packs windblown rain and snow, threatened to bring more flooding to the rain-soaked state.

The “atmospheric flow” storm could drop more than 3 inches of rain throughout the day in parts of the already saturated Southern and Central California region, which has been hit hard by a relentless series of storms that began in late December.

Strong wind warnings and advisories were in effect from the Mexico border through Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area, where gusts of up to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) were predicted in some places.

Much of the region, as well as parts of Arizona and Nevada, were under flood surveillance and warnings Wednesday caused by the ongoing rain and snowmelt, the National Weather Service said.

“Our rivers, streams and streams are flowing at near full capacity. Any more rain we get today will only cause more flooding or worsen the ongoing flooding,” said Bill South, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Hanford, California.

More than 14,000 people across the state have been ordered to fly to higher ground due to flooding, and evacuation warnings have been issued for another 47,000 residents, Diana Crofts-Pelayo, a spokeswoman for the California Office of Emergency Services, said Tuesday.

The majority of the evacuation orders, affecting about 12,000 people, were issued in Tulare County, a flood-stricken region in the San Joaquin Valley where floodwaters from recent levee breaches have inundated a number of communities, Crofts-Pelayo said.

More than 100,000 homes and businesses in central California were without power early Wednesday after high winds from the storm destroyed power lines and trees, according to utility-tracking service PowerOutage.us.

“The system has exceeded all expectations,” utility company Pacific Gas and Electric (PCG_pa.A) said in a statement on its website, noting wind speeds of 89 mph were recorded in Santa Clara County.

The storm also brought heavy snow to higher elevations. Overall, snow accumulations of up to 1.22 m (4 ft) and locally up to 5 ft (5 ft) have been forecast, the weather service said.


The storm marked the 12th so-called atmospheric flow since December to swept the US West Coast, formed by an immense airflow of dense water vapor carried up off the ocean and flowing over land in torrential rain and snowfalls.

The rapid succession of Pacific storms over the past three months has produced an abrupt reversal of fortunes for a state that has been plagued by drought and wildfires in recent years — a shift in weather extremes that experts say is symptomatic of that of December man-made climate change.

The harsh California winter has caused widespread property damage and civil unrest for thousands of residents, with more than 20 deaths attributed to the storms.

But the rainfall deluge has also replenished badly depleted reservoirs and the snowpack of the state’s mountains.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Edited by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *