California’s latest storm comes after months of heavy rain and snowfall that battered the western US state.
Falling trees have killed two people in California as storms, damaging winds, rain and snow continue to batter the western US state.
High wind warnings and advisories were in effect from the Mexican border through Los Angeles and up into the San Francisco Bay Area, where gusts of up to 97 kilometers per hour (60 mph) were forecast in some spots.
Much of the region, along with parts of Arizona and Nevada, were under water watches and warnings Wednesday due to continued rain and slush, the U.S. National Weather Service said.
“Our rivers, streams and creeks are almost full. Any additional rain we get today will only cause more flooding or exacerbate the flooding that is underway,” said Bill South, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Hanford, California.
In the Bay Area community of Portola Valley in Northern California, a man driving a sewer truck was killed Tuesday when a tree fell on his vehicle, the California Highway Patrol said.
Firefighters in neighboring Contra Costa County also said a large tree killed the passenger and injured the driver of a passing car.
Con Fire clears the scene of the Rossmoor car accident. A large tree fell on a car while traveling on Stanley Dollar. The driver suffered minor injuries and the passenger died in the accident. Avoid the area, the roadway is still blocked and remains closed. pic.twitter.com/DReceZDZ9x
— Con Fire PIO (@ContraCostaFire) March 22, 2023
Mountain snow that forecasters say will be measured in feet fell in the central and southern parts of the state as intense hail was reported in Sacramento, the state capital to the north.
Trees and power lines were downed in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 118,000 customers in California were without power as of Wednesday morning PowerOutage.USa website that tracks power outages.
An Amtrak commuter train with 55 passengers on board crashed into a fallen tree and derailed near the East Bay village of Porta Costa on Tuesday. The train remained upright and no one was injured, Amtrak and firefighters said.
Wind gusts reached 122 kph (76 mph) — a level classified as “hurricane force” by the National Weather Service — in Santa Cruz mountain communities, including Boulder Creek.
Resident Frank Kuhr waited for hours Tuesday afternoon at a downtown supermarket for crews to remove large trees blocking a highway. “Trees have fallen everywhere,” Kuhr told The Associated Press news agency. “The wind was unbelievable. Branches flew through the air and people could hear trees falling and creaking.”
The California governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Tuesday it had 22 locations available in 12 counties to “provide shelter and other resources to affected Californians.”
The agency said it was “proactively coordinating the pre-positioning of flood control personnel to be available if needed”.
The National Weather Service said the storm is a low-pressure system in the Pacific Ocean that has been interacting with California’s 12th atmospheric river since late December.
The latest storm follows months of intense weather in California, with flooding ravaging the state.
California’s continued wet weather this winter, which includes atmospheric rivers and February blizzards driven by arctic air, comes after years of drought and wildfires. Scientists have said climate change is to blame for that whiplash of extreme weather events.
Atmospheric rivers are storms that carry massive amounts of rain and can cause flooding and mudslides.