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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

California, United States. Downpours and strong gusts of wind. Two people died.

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California is facing a severe storm caused by the atmospheric river phenomenon. The state was hit by heavy downpours and strong gusts of wind that downed trees, buildings and power lines. The violent weather contributed to the death of at least two people, and thousands of customers were left without access to electricity.

Powerful storm broke out on Wednesday and Thursday over California, bringing with it strong gusts of wind and heavy rain. The US National Weather Service (NWS) said Thursday that the phenomenon is likely to continue until the end of the day, flooding much of California with downpours of up to 25 liters of rain per square meter per hour. Wind gusts of 80 to over 112 km/h are expected in the southern part of the state, and over 160 km/h in some mountainous areas.

Two fatalities

Local authorities said there have been two deaths from the storm so far. A two-year-old child was killed Wednesday night after a wind-blown tree fell on the house where he was staying in Occidental. On Thursday morning, Fairfield Police said a 19-year-old woman had died after her car skidded on a wet road.

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Strong winds downed power lines across the state. According to the Poweroutage.us service on Thursday morning, about 180,000 customers experienced power outages. The roof of a gas station collapsed in Daly City.

San Francisco’s highway department began removing fallen trees and clearing streets of debris blown by strong winds on Thursday. In Los Angeles, police reported flooded streets.

California storm cleanupReuters/Santa Rosa Fire Department Facebook

California storm cleanupReuters/Santa Rosa Fire Department Facebook

Risk of downpours, floods and avalanches

California authorities have warned that heavy rainfall will contribute not only to flooding, but also to mudslides. Landslides are also possible, especially in areas where the soil remains waterlogged after last week’s floods.

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency across California. Evacuations have been ordered in parts of the state, including Santa Cruz County. Some residents decided to protect their properties by spreading sandbags.

Flood warnings covered large areas of the state, and about 600,000 residents were alerted for strong, gusty winds. Dozens of school districts canceled classes amid fears of flooding. Students stayed at home in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Mateo and Sonoma counties.

California storm cleanupReuters/Santa Rosa Fire Department Facebook

More storms in CaliforniaPAP/EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

More storms in CaliforniaPAP/EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

More storms in CaliforniaPAP/EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

What is an atmospheric river?

The storm in California is the result of a dangerous phenomenon known as an atmospheric river. It is a large, short-lived wind tunnel that transports huge amounts of water vapor from ocean waters to land. It is formed due to narrow and gusty wind streams. The atmospheric river moves at an altitude of about 1.5-2 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Reaching land, it drops rapidly in the form of heavy rain or heavy snowfall.

Such a phenomenon hit California last Saturday. Even then, there were warnings that there was a risk of another dangerous weather episode. The first downpours and gusts of wind appeared on Wednesday. Rescue teams went to work. As reported, there may be extensive flooding and power outages in places.

The atmospheric river is only meant to be a foretaste. According to meteorologists, a strong storm front will reach California after it, which will bring an additional portion of rainfall.

Another extremely dangerous weather episode is a consequence of an extensive low-pressure system that hovers over the eastern Pacific. In the coming days, it may make itself felt, forecasters warn.

Reuters, AccuWeather, PAP

Main photo source: Reuters/Santa Rosa Fire Department Facebook

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