California Suffers Brief Pause After Damaging ‘Bomb Cyclone’

MARTHA MENDOZA, BRIAN MELLEY and JOHN ANTCZAK

Associated Press

California’s weather calmed on Friday, but the pause was expected to be brief as more Pacific storms lined up to batter the state, where successive powerful weather systems have knocked out power for thousands, battered the coastline, flooded streets , knocked down trees and caused at least six deaths.

Remnant rain from the latest storm, a “bomb cyclone,” fell around the state and dangerous surf battered the coast despite diminishing wave heights, while some areas basked in sunshine.

The next round of severe weather was predicted to hit Northern California late Friday and spread south into the Midwest over the weekend, raising concerns about flooding from already saturated soil. Heavy snowfall is forecast for the Sierra Nevada.

“A very active weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean will continue to drive fast-moving, energetic low-pressure systems toward the West Coast,” the National Weather Service said. “California continues to bear the brunt of the heavy precipitation and high winds associated with these systems as we approach the first full weekend of 2023.”

Over the weekend, “the next moisture-laden Pacific cyclone is forecast to approach California with the next onslaught of heavy rain,” the service said.

Storms are atmospheric rivers, long columns of moisture that stretch out to the Pacific and are capable of dumping staggering amounts of rain and snow.

Downtown San Francisco had its wettest 10-day period since 1871 between December 26 and January 4, when 10.33 inches of rain fell. The all-time 10-day record was 14.37 inches in January 1862.

The storms have also been packing much-needed snow on the mountains of the drought-stricken state, where snowpack supplies about a third of California’s water supply.

“It’s been a deep week with almost 5 FEET of snow falling in the last 7 days!” the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab tweeted Friday.

Snowpack across the state was 191% of normal to date and 76% of average on April 1, which is typically the peak, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Storms have been coming to California since early November. A powerful New Year’s weekend storm that caused extensive flooding in Northern California’s Sacramento County and four deaths was followed Wednesday and Thursday by a “bomb cyclone,” a shorthand reference to a storm intensified by a fall in air pressure through a process called bombogenesis. .

Two deaths were reported, including a 2-year-old child who was killed when a redwood tree fell on a mobile home.

The coastal town of Capitola in Santa Cruz County, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, suffered possibly the worst damage when waves forecast to exceed 25 feet smashed into homes and restaurants at the mouth of Soquel Creek and they tore down a section of its historic wooden building. dock.

Hurricane-force gusts of up to 101 mph toppled trees onto buildings and roads, downed power lines and brought down the roof of a gas station in south San Francisco.

National Weather Service meteorologist Warren Blier said the wind speed recorded on a Marin County hilltop was among the highest he could recall in a 25-year career.

The storms won’t be enough to officially end the ongoing drought in the state, now entering its fourth year, but they have helped. Not including the latest deluge, recent storms have moved parts of the state out of the “exceptional drought” category on the US Drought Monitor. However, most of the state remains in the extreme or severe drought categories.

Melley and Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Olga Rodriguez and Janie Har in San Francisco, Sophie Austin in Sacramento, Terence Chea in Oakland and Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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