(Bloomberg) -- The costs of California’s relentless winter storms keep rising. And outside of the human toll — with at least 28 people killed since January — the price will be measured in billions.The “bomb cyclone” that lashed San Francisco on Tuesday was the latest in an epic series of extreme weather events to hit California since New Year’s Eve. It blew out windows from skyscrapers, flung barges into a historic bridge, sent trees tumbling across roads, knocked down power lines, and threatened a major freeway as the waterlogged hillside beneath it started to collapse.Just to the south, in the Santa Cruz area, the river that flooded the town of Pajaro a week ago rose again, while nearby strawberry fields that were already submerged received a fresh round of rain.  And on Wednesday, the National Weather Service confirmed that a rare tornado hit an industrial area of Montebello, east of downtown Los Angeles, injuring one person and damaging several buildings. 

The price tag for all this mayhem — road repairs, damaged homes, lost crops — won’t become clear for months. But the early estimates are sobering. In the Salinas Valley region known as America’s Salad Bowl — a key growing hub for the US's supply of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes — crop damages could climb as high as $500 million and the broader economic impact to the region could reach $1.2 billion, said Christopher Valadez, president of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, a trade group that represents farmers, processors and exporters in the region.Read more: Strawberry Prices Expected to Rise as California Fields Flooded

Officials in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, which has seen roads washed out and a popular ocean pier destroyed, estimate $88 million in public infrastructure damage and $49.5 million in crop damage from the storms so far.Tuesday’s damage comes in addition to the destruction California sustained in January, when three weeks of intense rainfall triggered floods and mudslides across the state, closing roads and homes. Moody’s RMS, a risk-modeling service, estimated the statewide cost from floods and infrastructure damage in January to be $5 billion to $7 billion. AccuWeather Inc. put its own estimate far higher at $30 billion.

It’s a dramatic reversal of fortune. After three years of punishing drought, California since late December has endured 12 “atmospheric rivers,” weather systems that channel intense plumes of moisture from hundreds of miles across the ocean and can carry as much water as the Mississippi River at its mouth. Tuesday’s storm added to the river a “bomb cyclone,” a rapidly intensifying low-pressure system that fired up winds and produced a hurricane-like eye that rolled directly over San Francisco. Across the Bay in Oakland, tropical storm-force wind gusts of 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 117 kilometers per hour) were reported for seven consecutive hours, according to AccuWeather.“The impacts from the event resembled that of a landfalling strong tropical storm — likely the closest San Francisco residents will ever come to experiencing that weather phenomenon,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter.

Downtown San Francisco has received 30.69 inches (78 centimeters) of rain since October 1, which is 11.35 inches above normal, according to the National Weather Service. Los Angeles has received 25.74 inches in the same period, 13.27 inches above normal. On Tuesday, the city got 1.43 inches, a record for the date.

In San Francisco, the city closed off part of busy Mission Street downtown after window glass fell from a nearby tower. Near the city’s baseball park, an historic bridge was closed to vehicle traffic after barges blown by the wind crashed into and damaged it. Meanwhile, workers blocked off lanes of one of the main freeway arteries connecting the city to the Central Valley — Interstate 580 in the Altamont Pass — after the ground beneath it started sliding.

“We’ve gone from extremes, this weather whiplash — the most dry and arid years that we’ve experienced in our lifetimes to some of the wettest years we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday, as the latest system approached.

The storms have triggered so much destruction across so much terrain that Newsom has declared a state of emergency in 43 of California’s 58 counties. In each, the damage and the repairs needed are unique. Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said costs from the latest round of storms will likely go up for weeks as officials assess damages. That comes on top of the more than $1 billion in damage to homes and public infrastructure from a series of deadly storms in January.

In the Sierra Nevada foothills, roads have been closed by landslides that can’t be quickly removed. The California Department of Transportation on Monday posted footage of State Route 70 in Plumas County buried under a collapsed hillside and warned there’s no estimate for when it can reopen.

For some of the state’s industries, the extreme weather has been an inconvenience, but little more. FilmLA, which administers permits to shoot movies and TV shows in the Los Angeles region, said it experienced many cancellations and requests to reschedule projects in the first wave of storms earlier this year. Now applications are being submitted with rain dates included as many producers try to plan their shoots around weather reports.

Operations at California’s busy ports have occasionally been slowed by the storms. Alan McCorkle, CEO of Yusen Terminals LLC in the Port of Los Angeles, said the wind had twice stopped containers from being unloaded. “We also had a situation a few weeks ago where the wind knocked over several empty containers in the yard, which happened to several terminals at the same time, requiring all terminals to shut down for the rest of the shift,” McCorkle said. But such events are rare, even this year, he said. 

The state’s sprawling agriculture industry, however, has taken a direct hit. The back-to-back storms struck farmland along the Central Coast particularly hard, putting strawberries and leafy greens in soggy peril and threatening to pinch national produce supply. 

At the 99-year-old Ocean Mist Farms, the largest North American grower and supplier of artichokes, the deluge and unseasonably cool temperatures mean its growing crops in the region are delayed by several weeks, according to Mark Munger, senior director of marketing at the family-owned farming operation. 

“Shoppers should probably expect very limited supplies in April, and that is directly due to the cold, wet weather we’ve been having,” Munger said. Ocean Mist, headquartered in Monterey County’s Castroville, was not able to plant vegetable crops like lettuce and broccoli on time due to all the rain and standing water. Other vegetables, like Romaine lettuce, also are likely to be hard to find next month. The shortfall is poised to lift retail prices at a time when consumers continue to grapple with high food inflation.

In the Central Valley county of Tulare floods have already damaged citrus and almond orchards, along with dairy farms. As the spring runoff starts in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, even more water will flow onto farmland downstream. "The creameries are having to temporarily shut down from the floods, that means a loss of jobs temporarily and dumping of milk," said Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau. “There are potentially tens of thousands of acres of cropland under water.” 

--With assistance from Laura Curtis, Christopher Palmeri and Joe Deaux.

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