The severe storm battering California has left at least five people dead and dozens injured. Local and state administrations are warning of the dangers posed by the bomb cyclone that has the state on edge and recommend using extreme caution when leaving home.
London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco, confirmed the death of two citizens, 55 and 36 years old after being transported with serious injuries to Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco:
We tragically lost two lives due to yesterday's dangerous storm that hit San Francisco. These repeated storms have been very challenging and caused severe conditions that our City crews are working to assess. https://t.co/v01kfh0W5w
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 22, 2023
Two other people, ages 29 and 79, died in Portola Valley, near San Jose, and in Walnut Creek, a community near Oakland, after two trees crushed their cars with them inside. The fifth confirmed victim died while inside a tent near Lake Merritt, located in downtown Oakland.
Apart from fatalities and injuries, the bomb cyclone caused traffic disruptions due to flooding on the roads.
The low pressure system continues to hang off the coast of the Bay Area and has barely moved since yesterday. That is why we've been having on and off showers for the past day. This system will finally move southeast this afternoon and evening eventually drying things out! #CAwx pic.twitter.com/iTv12OCiW3
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) March 22, 2023
About 100,000 residents in California were without power, according to the PowerOutage.us web portal. As of the latest update, just over 45,000 people remain without power to their homes.
Two tornadoes recorded
In addition to flooding and strong winds, there were also tornadoes. The National Weather Service (NWS) recorded one in the city of Carpinteria, causing damage to the municipal cemetery and about 25 homes.
#Carpinteria Tornado Damage Report updated with fuller details. EF0 with 0.47-mile damage path 25 yards wide. #CAwx #SBAweather https://t.co/2POtpwhSet
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) March 23, 2023
Another was reported in the Los Angeles County town of Montebello, causing damage to an industrial warehouse and the surrounding commercial district.
WILD WEATHER! An apparent landspout formed Wednesday morning over Montebello, tearing up the roofs on multiple industrial buildings, damaging cars and injuring at least one person. 🌪️😲 https://t.co/0YmyVrcwhu pic.twitter.com/7XTdBcWemw
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) March 22, 2023
Atmospheric rivers in California
This winter season, the Golden State has suffered the consequences of the passage of at least 12 atmospheric rivers. These weather events have resulted in flooding, high winds, snow, damage to roads and public and private facilities in some communities, evacuations of people from their homes and residences, and ongoing national and state weather emergency declarations.
Some scientists and meteorological experts have linked these weather phenomena to an increase in the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. That means that storms, like these atmospheric rivers, can bring more moisture inland, leading to increased rainfall rates and flash flooding.
At the outset of the winter season, it was estimated that cities such as Los Angeles could receive as much as 24 inches of rain (twice the normal amount). San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno have seen rainfall levels generally considered "normal" during this time period, increase by more than 150%.
Extreme rains have caused severe flooding in the communities. But they have also increased water levels in state reservoirs that have seen their reservoirs increase by more than 100 and 180 feet since December.