Soaked California faces another deluge driven by bomb cyclone


SAN FRANCISCO: California faces a long night of heavy rain and ferocious winds, as a powerful storm system adds to recent downpours that have burst levees and triggered mudslides.
The most intense rain was expected to hit the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday evening and then march inland, raising the risk of flooding across a wide swath of the state. Officials evacuated low-lying neighborhoods in a handful of communities and urged Californians to stay off the roads, saying the storm could be one of the biggest in five years.
“We could see widespread flooding, mudslides and power outages,” said Nancy Ward, director of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, at a Wednesday briefing in Sacramento. “We are worried about a storm hovering for much too long, because we are just so saturated.”
While drought-stricken California desperately needs rain and snow, the last two weeks have brought a parade of storms that’s unleashed more water than some areas can handle. The storms are refilling depleted reservoirs and boosting the state’s mountain snowpack, but they’re also causing chaos on roads and have led to at least one death.
The storm has prompted scattered evacuations in Contra Costa and Santa Cruz counties outside of San Francisco. Some fuel terminals have shut in Sacramento and Stockton due to flooding — and new deliveries could be delayed.
Even before the worst of the storm reached California, more than 60,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power as of 3:49pm local time Wednesday, according to utility tracking site Poweroutage.us.
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency, a move that provides additional authority to rapidly deploy aid where needed. Some California National Guard units have been called in to assist, and the state’s emergency operations center is on its highest level of alert.
The storm will spread southward across the state, adding to heavy rain across Los Angeles. As much as four inches could fall, with up to double that amount in some isolated mountainous areas. Significant flash flooding and debris flows are possible, according to the US National Weather Service.
The Pacific storm intensified so rapidly it has become what meteorologists call a bomb cyclone, bringing hurricane-strength winds that are driving a deep ribbon of moisture off the ocean into California. A similar band of torrential rains, known as an atmospheric river, swept ashore last week. A subsequent stream is forecast to hit this weekend, followed by another early next week, adding to the trouble.
“These little breaks will be few and far between — there is not going to be much recovery time between these atmospheric rivers,” said Andrew Orrison, a forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Center.

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