California storm leaves thousands without power, another ‘atmospheric flow’ threatens from Reuters

California storm leaves thousands without power, another ‘atmospheric flow’ threatens from Reuters

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©Reuters. Damaged by severe storm waves, Capitola Wharf is seen in Santa Cruz, California, United States, January 5, 2023 in this screenshot taken from a social media video. Kelly Pound/via REUTERS 2/4

By Jorge Garcia and Steve Gorman

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (Reuters) – Utility teams in Northern California worked to restore power to tens of thousands of homes on Friday after two days of fierce winds and torrential rain, even as the region braced for another onslaught of stormy weather over the weekend .

The next bout of heavy showers and gusty winds should sweep the northwest corner of California late Friday and spread south into the San Francisco Bay Area and central coast by Saturday and Sunday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said. Southern Oregon was also to take a hit.

The coming storm — another “atmospheric river” of dense moisture pouring in from the Pacific — is likely to dump several inches of rain on a region already saturated with repeated downpours since late December, increasing the risk of flash floods and mudslides again . This was announced by the NWS.

Hills and ravines stripped of vegetation by past wildfires are particularly vulnerable to rock and mudslides, according to forecasters.

In addition to torrential rains, up to 60 inches of snow was expected over the weekend in higher elevations of the Sierras, where accumulations of a foot to 46 inches or more were measured earlier this week.

On Friday, much of the northern two-thirds of California, the most populous state in the United States, was under flood surveillance, storm warnings and winter storm warnings as forecasters urged residents to prepare for the deluge and stay off roads in flood-prone areas.

The ominous forecast follows a massive Pacific storm that unleashed two days of gale force winds, crashing surf, torrential rain and heavy snow across California. The northern part of the state was hardest hit.

Around 60,000 homes and businesses in several Northern California counties were left without power as of Friday morning due to the weather, according to data from

Howling winds uprooted trees already weakened by prolonged drought and poorly anchored in rain-soaked soil, downed power lines and blocked roads across the region. Road traffic was also disrupted by flash floods and rockfalls.


High surf and runoff from heavy rains swamped several blocks in the coastal city of Santa Cruz, and heavy waves tore up wooden piers in the adjacent city of Capitola and nearby Seacliff State Beach.

Farther north, raging waves broke through the back doors of the historic Point Cabrillo lighthouse in Mendocino County, inundating the ground-floor museum, the Mendocino Voice newspaper reported.

The two-day storm, which ended Thursday evening, was driven by an immense flow of atmospheric moisture from the tropical Pacific and a sprawling, hurricane-sized low-pressure system known as the bomb cyclone.

It was the third and strongest atmospheric flow to hit California since early last week. Research predicts that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of such rainstorms and interrupt extended periods of extreme drought.

At least six people have died in severe weather since the New Year’s weekend, including a toddler killed by a fallen redwood that crushed an RV in Northern California.

The rapid succession of storms left downtown San Francisco drenched with 10 inches (26 cm) of rain from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4, the wettest 10-day stretch on record there in more than 150 years since 1871, according to the NWS .

The highest rainfall ever documented over 10 days in the city’s downtown was 14.37 inches (36.5 cm), an 1862 record that the NWS said was likely to weather downpours to come .

The storms have brought a welcome replenishment to snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, a critical source of California’s water supply, but experts say much more snow will need to fall in the winter to significantly improve the state’s severe drought situation.

For better or worse, the weather service predicted another, “likely stronger” atmospheric river storm “is on the horizon for Monday,” part of a larger pattern that forecasters believe is likely to continue at least through mid-January.

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