Jan 5, 2023
As Powerful California Storm Weakens, Another Lashing Looms
(Bloomberg) -- A powerful storm with hurricane-force gusts is winding down after ripping across California, leaving behind power outages, flood threats and road closures just hours before another drenching is set to wash over the state.
“It’s not like this is done,” said Bob Oravec, senior branch forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Center. “The rain reloads in Northern California tomorrow. Then there’s a big rain event Monday and Tuesday.”
While drought-stricken California desperately needs rain and snow, the last two weeks have brought a series of storms that 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, raising risks from flooding and mudslides and endangering lives.
And they’re testing the limits of California’s aging infrastructure. Its levees, dams, piers and roads are starting to fail.
The rains won’t end soon. The weather pattern steering storms toward California appears locked in place for weeks to come, forecasters say, with the state likely to see significant precipitation every two to three days.
Read: California Faces Weeks of Rain, Thanks to System Stuck in Sky
The latest storm brought wind gusts of 132 miles (212 kilometers) per hour to Alpine Meadows, California, in the mountains west of Lake Tahoe and triggered some evacuations in Contra Costa, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, outside San Francisco.
The aftermath left more than 109,000 homes and businesses in California without power as of 3:40 pm local time, according to PowerOutage.us.
A child was killed in Sonoma County when a tree fell on a house, according to the Associated Press. In Fairfield, a 19-year-old woman was killed after losing control of her vehicle on a partially flooded road and crashing. Highway 1 on the scenic Big Sur coast remains closed in several spots because of downed trees and flooding, according to the state’s transportation department.
Storm-driven waves caused part of the Capitola Wharf near Santa Cruz to collapse into the sea. Earlier rounds of rain had already breached levees on Northern California’s Cosumnes River, said Brad Moore of the California Nevada River Forecast Center.
Long-range forecasts indicate there won’t be much of a change to larger weather patterns until the end of January, which in addition to bringing storms to the West Coast is expected to keep most of the US relatively mild.
More than five inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain could fall across a large part of California in the coming week — and some areas could see more than 10 inches, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
Hydrologists are particularly concerned about next week’s forecast for another incoming system, according to Moore.
“There is one that is roughly about one week out that is looking quite significant,” Moore said.
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