Mar 22, 2023
Record San Francisco Storm Leaves Flood Risk, Thousands in Dark
(Bloomberg) -- A historic storm that rattled San Francisco with hurricane-force gusts is winding down, leaving behind the threat of flooded streets and highways across the Bay Area.
Showers will continue along the California coast from San Francisco to San Diego through the day as the system moves inland, said Ashton Robinson Cook, a meteorologist with the US Weather Prediction Center. Skies should be clear by Thursday.
The center of the storm itself is still near San Francisco though has considerably weakened, he said. The worst impacts of rain and wind have shifted into Arizona, and the storm will drift east into Nevada through the day, leaving behind lingering showers.
A flood advisory is in effect in the Bay Area throughout the morning, the National Weather Service’s local office said on Twitter.
San Francisco International Airport reported flight delays early Wednesday. About 130,000 homes and businesses across the state remained without electricity as of 5:20 a.m. local time, according to the website PowerOutage.us.
The massive low-pressure system that developed off San Francisco Tuesday set a March record for the lowest barometric pressure, one measure of a storm’s strength, Robinson Cook said. The storm dropped to 985 millibars in San Francisco, breaking the old mark of 990.
The system intensified so fast it was classified as a bomb cyclone. The storm brought heavy rain and wind gusts as high as 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour to the region, upending travel and leading to at least one death in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco.
“This was a violent, sudden windstorm,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles. “We’re seeing impacts probably that are similar to a strong tropical storm or a weak hurricane.”
Santa Cruz County, about 75 miles south of San Francisco, appeared to suffer the brunt of the latest atmospheric river. Reports of downed electrical lines and car crashes swamped the county’s fire dispatch center.
California has been hammered by a series of storms known as atmospheric rivers since late December, bringing flooding rains and record snowfall across the Sierra Nevada and other mountains. More than 20 people have died and billions of dollars in damages and losses have mounted from collapsed roads, inundated homes and power outages.
--With assistance from David R. Baker, Brian Wingfield, Mark Chediak and Karen Breslau.
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