AccuWeather is wrapping up live coverage of the bomb cyclone in California. More storms remain in the forecast for the West Coast of the United States in the coming weeks, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. For additional coverage, stream AccuWeather NOW anytime on our website. Stay up to date on the latest weather in your area by downloading the AccuWeather mobile app and visiting AccuWeather.com. And keep an eye on weather news and forecasts by following AccuWeather on:
Several reports of flooding were filed across California on Thursday afternoon as heavy rainfall continued to impact the area. Road flooding was reported in San Juan Bautista, Fair Oaks, Salinas and on California State Route 1 near Bodega Bay. In addition to flooding, downed trees were another hazard causing concern in the state. A tree was blocking a lane of traffic near Castro Valley and another tree was leaning agains a house near Broadmoor. The parade of storms is forecast to continue into next week, which will cause further concern for hazards.
More than 160,000 customers across California remained without power as of noon PST on Thursday. Excessive downpours and strong winds contributed to ongoing power outages as the West Coast continues to deal with impacts from the bomb cyclone. More than 23,000 customers were without power in San Mateo County while more than 12,500 were without power in nearby Santa Cruz County. The Red Cross in Northern California posted tips on social media on how to stay safe during power outages. These tips include to never approach downed power lines, surrounding food in a cooler or refrigerator with ice, and to use a flashlight instead of a candle for light.
AccuWeather forecasters warn that a series of storms lining up across the Pacific Ocean will continue to aim for California following this current storm. Each storm will bring a renewed threat of flash flooding and mudslides to the Golden State. “After a couple of weak storms [relatively speaking] this weekend, a bigger storm will arrive early next week and then another big storm the following week,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. As the ground remains saturated during the stormy pattern, rounds of strong winds can cause trees to topple over and lead to periodic or widespread power outages. “During the latter half of January, there should be a break off from the subtropical moisture at the very least,” Pastelok said.
On Jan. 9, 2018, a torrent of mud careened down the hillsides of the Santa Ynez mountains in Santa Barbara County, carrying boulders the size of houses and other debris into the town of Montecito. The mudslide, which was 15 feet deep in spots, buried homes and roadways in the area and was blamed for the deaths of at least 23 people.
As a potent, moisture-laden storm socks California this week, mudslides remain a risk in the area. Parts of Santa Barbara County, including around Montecito, are under evacuation orders, especially near burn scar areas left behind by past massive wildfires, such as the Thomas Fire in 2017, which burned more than 280,000 acres. In fact, the burn scar of the Thomas Fire was a big contributor to the deadly mudslides that ensued in January 2018.
In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, mudflow, boulders, and debris from heavy rain runoff from early Tuesday reached the roof of a single story home in Montecito, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
Ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, the Montecito Fire Department said in a Facebook post on Thursday that feelings of anxiety for those who survived the tragedy are normal.
“It is normal to experience feelings of fear, anxiety and sadness as we approach the 5-year mark of the 1/9 Debris Flow, especially with the current weather conditions and evacuation order which may trigger emotional reactions,” the fire department’s post read. “The Community Wellness Team, formed in response to the 1/9 Debris Flow remains available to offer support and can be reached by calling 805-364-2750. ”
Over the past 72 hours, heavy rain associated with an atmospheric river has been pouring down on parts of California. In Lewiston, California, which is located northwest of Redding, 7.09 inches of rain has fallen. Just east of Lewiston, in Pollard Flat, 6.03 inches of rain has been measured in the last 72 hours. The Sacramento International Airport recorded 1.63 inches of rain, while the San Francisco International Airport has measured 1.61 inches of rain. So far, 1.51 inches of rain has fallen at the Los Angeles International Airport.
In addition to unleashing flooding rain and feet of mountain snow, the bomb cyclone off the West Coast is generating massive waves that are pounding the coast of California. A buoy located around 55 miles west-northwest of San Francisco measured a 30-foot wave late Wednesday, with waves fluctuating between 25 and 30 feet through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Santa Cruz County officials said that the enormous waves and high tide are making the coast “extraordinarily dangerous.” Officials added that there has been “significant damage to piers in Capitola and Aptos, which will remain closed until further notice.” People near the coast of California should avoid going on piers and remain on land due to the dangerous conditions. Coastal flooding has also been reported in low-lying areas near the ocean.
The bomb cyclone that struck California generated massive waves that pounded the coastline, including in the town of Aptos, above, south of San Jose in Santa Cruz County, on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (California Highway Patrol)
The sun is rising over the West Coast, shedding light on the destructive nature of the bomb cyclone blasting California. The combination of drenching downpours and strong winds is causing large trees to blow over, resulting in property damage and road obstructions. CAL FIRE officials in San Mateo County, located directly south of downtown San Francisco, Tweeted that “firefighters were responding to non-stop calls until the early morning hours” due to the storm. Over 26,000 power outages were reported in San Mateo County as of 8:15 a.m. PST, accounting for roughly 16% of all power outages across California, according to PowerOutage.us.
The term “pineapple express” has been used to describe the atmospheric river that is currently bringing heavy rain to parts of California and the West Coast, but what do pineapples have to do with meteorology? Well, it all has to do with where this specific atmospheric river originates from. Typically, atmospheric rivers originate in the tropical Pacific Ocean and transport moisture to the U.S. West Coast. But a pineapple express originates from Hawaii — the nations leading producer of pineapples — and transports moisture to the U.S. West Coast.
This concentrated band of moisture produces heavy precipitation once it falls across the U.S. West Coast and often results in major flooding, mudslides, road closures and travel delays. The most common time of the year for pineapple express atmospheric rivers to occur is in the fall and winter months.
Drought conditions persist across California, but the stormy pattern that concluded 2022 and continued into 2023 has benefitted the state greatly. According to the latest U.S. drought monitor report, which was released on Jan. 5, but incorporates weather data up through Jan. 3, no parts of the Golden State were classified as being in “exceptional drought,” which is the most intense drought rating on the agency’s five-tier scale. At the start of the state’s water year, on Sept. 27, 2022, about 16.5 percent of California was experiencing exceptional drought conditions. One week ago, about 7 percent of the state had exceptional drought conditions. This update from the drought monitor does not include the impacts of the ongoing rain and snow moving through the state.
Weather conditions might seem fine at the base of the Palisades Tahoe ski resort in Lake Tahoe, California, but the conditions on top of the 8,200-foot ski mountain paint a much different picture. A video shared by the ski resort showed low visibility and blowing snow on the top of the mountain. The chairs on the chairlift swayed side to side as the wind could be heard howling in the background. On Wednesday, the mountain recorded a wind gust of 119 mph. As of Thursday morning, at least 48 trails on the mountain were closed. The ski resort’s webcam on the top of the mountain was covered with snow and ice Thursday morning. At the base of the mountain, the webcam showed calmer weather conditions. Although snow could be seen falling at the base, the wind wasn’t swaying trees back and forth.
Millions of people across California are waking up to wet weather as an atmospheric river ushers rain across most of the state. Since the stroke of midnight, 1 inch of rain has fallen at Los Angeles International Airport with rain still falling. Typically, the airport measures 2.86 inches of rain throughout all of January. Rain and gusty winds could cause delays throughout the Thursday morning commute from San Diego through San Francisco, while folks traveling through the mountain passes in the Sierras could encounter heavy snow. Rain may even fall in Death Valley, one of the driest places in North America. AccuWeather forecasters say that the intensity of the rain and mountain snow is predicated to wind down throughout the day and into Thursday night.
A 19-year-old woman from Fairfield, California, was killed when her car hydroplaned on a partially flooded road and crashed into a utility pole, the Fairfield Police Department reported. Fairfield is located about 43 miles northeast of San Francisco. “Speed unsafe for conditions was likely the primary reason for the collision, with water on the road being a contributing factor,” the police said. The accident occurred just after 8:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The accident shows why it’s important for the public to take it slow on the roadways as rain continues to create a hazard for motorists. “Even if not that deep, standing water can cause vehicles to hydroplane which can be difficult course correct - especially for the inexperienced driver,” the police department said.
Another fatality was reported on Wednesday evening in the town of Occidental, located in Sonoma County, after a tree fell onto a home and killed a 2-year-old boy, local firefighters said, according to ABC News. The boy's parents were home at the time, but neither suffered any injuries.
Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect new details about the age of the boy who was killed.
As a potent storm crashed onshore in California on Wednesday, communities were walloped with heavy rain and gusty winds. On Wednesday evening, the winds gusted to 119 mph in Kirkwood Meadows, which is a town located about 78 miles east of Sacramento. Wind speeds gusted over 100 mph near Lake Tahoe, which is just north of Kirkwood Meadows. At Alpine Meadows, which is located on the northwestern side of Lake Tahoe, a 132 mph wind gust was recorded. Of all the recorded wind gusts, the strongest were located in Northern and interior California.
Rainfall totals ranged from less than an inch to nearly 3 inches as of Thursday morning. In Mount Shasta, which is a mountain located in Northern California, measured 2.82 inches of rain as of Thursday morning. Santa Rosa, located north of San Francisco, measured 2.31 inches of rain as of Thursday morning. Rainfall totals in the southern half of the state also surpassed 1 inch. Los Angeles International Airport measured 0.85 of an inch of rain in less than 6 hours.
Heavy rain and wind began walloping parts of California on the evening of Jan. 5 as a potent storm system moved into areas still recovering from flooding less than a week before.
Power outages skyrocketed overnight as the latest storm impacted California. As of 3 a.m. PST, more than 170,000 customers in the Golden State are in the dark, according to PowerOutage.US. The highest percentage of outages is along the coast in Mendocino County, where more than 9,000 of the county's 53,590 customers have no electricity. Just to the north in Humboldt County, almost 8,800 customers of the 99,802 are without power. Power outage numbers are expected to rise in Southern California later today as the storm moves in that direction.
AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting between 1.5 and 3 inches of rain for downtown Los Angeles, and if most of the rain falls after the calendar turns to Thursday, the city could experience its wettest day in years. The last time downtown Los Angeles received more than 2 inches of rain in a calendar day was on Dec. 30, 2021, when 2.57 inches of rain was measured. In recent history, it has been rare for water gauges in Los Angeles to fill up with more than 3 inches of rain in one calendar day. The most recent occurrence was on Dec. 28, 2004, when 5.55 inches of rain was measured, the third-wettest day in city history.
Rain has begun to deluge the city of Richmond, which is located along the San Francisco Bay, leading to the evacuation of 15 homes in the city’s Seacliff neighborhood. The homes were evacuated in the late afternoon hours Wednesday due to a potential landslide in the area. With rain continuing to roll in, responding crews have been dropping sandbags and tarps in the neighborhood to mitigate the potential for the slide on a local hill. San Francisco remains under a flood advisory entering the evening hours, while the majority of the California coastline remains under a flood watch through Thursday.
Despite the hurdles that the persistent drought in the western U.S. have posed, the California snowpack is off to an impressive start. Over 64% of the state was experiencing at least moderate drought conditions as of the latest data available from Dec. 29, 2022, according to U.S. Drought Monitor. However, the snowpack in the Sierra Mountains was over 100% above normal compared to the average for Jan. 4. In the southern Sierra, snowpack levels were over double the average amount. The Associated Press reports the snowpack statewide is at 174% of the historical average for this year — the third-best measurement in the past 40 years. The boost was attributed to the recent strong storms from December, notably the storm over New Year’s Eve.
But while there are hopes that the healthy snowpack will add to the dwindling water levels of reservoirs, a strong start to the year does not always promise a steady supply throughout the year. Last year, the statewide snowpack was at 160% of average at the first survey, only to drop to 38% of historic average by April 1. The preceding three months had been some of the driest ever recorded in California, according to the AP. “While we see a terrific snowpack — and that in itself may be an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief — we are by no means out of the woods when it comes to drought,” the Director of the California Department of Water Resources Karla Nemeth said Tuesday.
According to KTVU News in Oakland, California, an infant reportedly died in Occidental, California Wednesday evening, in Sonoma County. Firefighters said that the death occurred when strong winds caused a tree to fall onto a home.
The combination of saturated soil and strong winds leads to weakened root systems in trees, and can cause them to be toppled more easily.
UPDATE: 7:33 a.m. PST Thursday: ABC News is reporting that the victim was a 2-year-old boy. The victim's parents were both home at the time and unharmed.
As life-threatening conditions were unfolding in California Wednesday evening, deadly storms from less than a week prior in the state have claimed a third victim. On Wednesday, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to ABC10 that a body was recovered from inside a car near Galt in Sacramento County. The car was found submerged.
This is at least the third death since last weekend, when an atmospheric river soaked California in heavy rain, leading to widespread flooding and forced evacuations. Also during the storms, a 72-year-old man was killed by a falling tree at the Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz, and another fatality was reported after a person was found inside a submerged vehicle in Sacramento County.
Pedestrians carry umbrellas as they walk in the rain in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. A flood watch is in effect across much of Northern California through New Year's Eve. Officials warned that rivers and streams could overflow and urged residents to get sandbags ready. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Due to the ongoing storms moving through the Oakland area, City Administrator Ed Reskin issued a local state of emergency Wednesday evening, which will last for seven days. Officials expect that the storms will require expedited emergency responses from the city “to address public safety, transportation, public works, and other needs.” The bomb cyclone began to work its way into the Bay Area hub in the late afternoon, and the city is under a flood warning until 10:45 p.m. PST.
Powerful winds are beginning to pick up throughout Northern California Wednesday, a precursor to the high winds residents can expect during the severe weather stretch. Through late Wednesday afternoon, the highest reported wind gust was 94 mph near Capetown, at an elevation of 1,696 feet. Other high elevation wind gusts reported include a 83 mph gust near Weitchpec, a 78 mph gust near Kneeland and a 75 mph gust near Branscomb. The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast through 10 a.m. PST Thursday, with local gusts expected to be up to 50 mph in valley locations and up to around 70 mph along the coast and highest peaks. Impacts from the damaging winds include downed trees, downed power lines, and widespread power outages.
Evacuations continued in the Bay Area Wednesday afternoon, as evacuation orders were issued for multiple areas of Santa Cruz County after rainfall in the region brought higher flood risks. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuations for unincorporated areas, including the Paradise Park area and the Felton Grove neighborhood. Evacuation orders in the areas are mandatory, with the areas closed to public access. Those who required additional time to evacuate, including those with pets and livestock, should begin evacuations immediately. Santa Cruz Metro services reported that they used six buses to evacuate between 160 and 180 children from the YMCA in Boulder Creek that were attending a camp.
The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the Hurricane Hunters of the United States Air Force Reserve, will be right in the middle of this week’s atmospheric river hitting California. The esteemed team of pilots were en route to the state Wednesday, reported in the air over northern Texas as of 1 p.m. CST, and will be providing “key observations” over the Northeast Pacific in order to help improve weather and water forecasts associated with upcoming atmospheric rivers following this week’s storms.
The reconnaissance mission’s goals also include supporting water management decisions and flood forecasting. Previous atmospheric river reconnaissance missions took place in 2016, 2018 and 2019, with the latter two sponsored primarily by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Water Resources. Data from the mission is collected from the release of dropsondes, a weather device that can record temperature, wind and relative humidity throughout the atmosphere.
The United States Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters were en route to California Wednesday for a reconnaissance mission investigating the atmospheric river hitting the state.
Power outage numbers continue to rise in California as the powerful storm has begun barreling down on the state. As of 4:41 p.m. PST, the state has 74,216 tracked customers without power, according to PowerOutage.US. A high concentration of outages has been reported on the northern end of the state’s coastline, including Humboldt County (11,584 outages) and Mendocino County (7,920 outages). The Bay Area also accounts for much of the outages, with customers in San Mateo County (13,881 outages) and Santa Cruz County (6,170 outages) being impacted by the storms.
Zoos throughout California are preparing for the severe weather heading their way. Officials from the Sacramento Zoo announced that the facility will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, stating that “our animals are safe and warm in their indoor habitats and being cared for by our dedicated animal care team.” The San Francisco Zoo remained open Wednesday, with staff members taking extra time to assure animals had extra access to shelter and heat. “Our incredible animal care staff members are geared up and ready for the rain,” zoo officials stated. “They continue to provide the best possible care for our animals, regardless of the weather conditions.” The zoo’s horticulture department has been keeping watch on trees on the zoo grounds for any potential falling hazards.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Zoo is dealing with its own issues separate from the storm, as a massive sinkhole found on Dec. 31 forced the closure of the facility until at least Jan. 17. Zoo staff are entering the facility from a one-lane service road to care for animals and prepare for more rainfall. “Our focus right now is staying ahead of what the next storm may bring,” Oakland Zoo CEO Nik Dehejia said Wednesday.
The San Francisco Zoo remained open Wednesday, with staff members taking extra time to assure animals have extra access to shelter and heat during this week's storms. (Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service)
The powerful storm system over the Pacific is expected to come close to bomb cyclone threshold as closes in on California. The storm is forecast to unleash powerful winds, torrential rain and heavy snow across the Golden State as well as other parts of the West through Thursday. Bomb cyclone is a less technical term meteorologists often use to refer to a storm that has undergone bombogenesis, or a rapid strengthening defined by specific criteria. Bombogenesis itself is a combination of two words: bomb and cyclogenesis.
A satellite loop showing a powerful bomb cyclone over the Pacific Ocean Wednesday. (NOAA/GOES-WEST)
“All storms are cyclones, and genesis means the creation or beginning. In this case, bomb refers to explosive development. Altogether the term means explosive storm strengthening,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski explained. The technical measurement meteorologists use to identify if a storm has indeed become a bomb cyclone is inches of mercury. When the barometric pressure falls at least 0.71 of an inch (24 millibars) in 24 hours, a storm has undergone bombogenesis, according to Sosnowski.
You may have heard of a storm undergoing ‘bombogenesis’. If you’ve also heard of the term ‘bomb cyclone’, they are the same phenomenon. What exactly do they mean?
A section of U.S. Highway 101 was shut down on Wednesday afternoon after large trees fell across the highway, according to Caltrans District 1. The closure impacts northbound and southbound lanes along a stretch of road about 25 miles north of Eureka, California, and a few miles south of Redwood National and State Parks.
Caltrans said in a Twitter post that crews are on the scene trying to clear the roadway, but there is no estimate of when the road will be reopened. More road closures due to storm damage are possible across California as the bomb cyclone blasts the region.
The severe weather in the San Francisco area has already taken a toll on travel, with the adverse conditions forcing a ground stop for some arriving flights at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday. According to tracking website FlightAware, over 100 flights departing from the airport have been delayed and 38 more canceled. Nearly 100 arriving flights at the airport have been delayed so far on Wednesday, with another 36 arriving flights being canceled.
People visit the Golden Gate Bridge as a rain storm moves through the area on Jan. 4, 2023, in San Francisco. A massive storm is hitting Northern California bringing flooding rains and damaging wind (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
With a major storm expected to pound the San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday, schools throughout the area have preemptively canceled classes as a precaution for the severe weather. On Wednesday, South San Francisco Unified School District announced that schools will be closed and classes will be canceled on Thursday, along with all extended and after school care services, extracurricular and athletic activities. After-school athletic and extracurricular programs were also canceled for Wednesday, with the district’s goal to have the majority of staff and families off the road by 3 p.m. PST. San Mateo Union High School District, located about 30 miles south of downtown San Francisco, also chose to close schools on Thursday “due to the potential for severe weather and dangerous traffic conditions.” After-school activities in the district were also canceled for Wednesday.
The approaching bomb cyclone will threaten to bring hurricane-force winds to parts of the West Coast from Wednesday into Thursday. Wind gusts may approach 74 mph — the speed of a Category 1 hurricane — or greater in locations spanning from Washington state to areas of Southern California as the barometric pressure plummets in the storm, causing the wind to rush toward the center of the system. Winds of this speed are capable of downing power lines and toppling poorly rooted trees in soil saturated by the recent storms.
Crews work at removing multiple fallen trees blocking U.S. Highway 101 in Humboldt County near Trinidad, California, Wednesday. A major winter storm approached California, causing crews to rush to clear storm drains in preparation for flooding and strong winds. (Caltrans District 1 via AP)
Power outages totaled around 54,000 customers without service as of late Wednesday afternoon local time, according to PowerOutage.US. AccuWeather forecasters have warned against traveling during the height of the storm due to the dangers the wind could pose.
An atmospheric river may sound whimsical and have the potential to bring some much-needed moisture to the West, but they can often spark flooding or dangerous snowstorms. These massive plumes of moisture originate some 2,500 miles from the U.S. West Coast in the tropical Pacific Ocean and move eastward. While the West is in desperate need for moisture to quench the ongoing drought and buff up the snowpacks, the weather setup can lead to excessive rainfall and flooding or even shut down travel with heavy snowfall. This particular atmospheric river can be classified as a “Pineapple Express” as it builds up moisture around Hawaii.
Officials in California are taking precaution in advance of the major storm, announcing evacuation orders throughout the state. In the Bay Area hub of San Jose, mandatory evacuation orders were issued by city officials late Tuesday for people without shelter near creeks, with police stating that “if you are in the banks of the waterway, your life is in danger” from the likely heavy rains and flooding. The order is not for residential homes, and police officers will be using a long range acoustic device to make announcements.
The city of Watsonville, approximately 50 miles south of San Jose, issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday for neighborhoods with a high risk of flooding. An evacuation advisory was issued for southern coastal areas of San Mateo County, particularly in the burn scar area for the CZU Fire that torched the area in August 2020. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works also had burn scars in mind with evacuation warnings that will go into effect Wednesday afternoon, pertaining to areas of the Lake Fire burn scar and the northern end of the Bobcat Fire burn scar.
A major storm will deliver life-threatening flooding, damaging winds and power outages to California and other parts of the West.
More than 50 state parks in California have been partially or fully closed as the state braces for a significant winter storm. “To protect the safety of the public and employees, the following state park units will be temporarily closed until further notice,” the California Department of Parks and Recreation said on its website. The department said more parks could be closed due to the deteriorating weather conditions. Redwood National & State Parks posted on social media that strong winds from the impending storm could blow over giant trees, making it dangerous to be in a redwood forest until conditions improve.
As a large winter storm sweeps through California, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday to support response and recovery efforts. “This proclamation will allow the state to respond quickly as the storm develops and support locals in their ongoing response,” the announcement said. The governor’s office has activated the state emergency operations center to its highest level. Officials urged all residents to stay informed of any severe weather alerts by signing up for alerts from their counties. They also added that all residents should heed evacuation orders from local officials and evacuate when ordered to do so. “Stay off the road if necessary and stay at home,” said Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary of natural resources. “And be ready for extensive power outages.”
Rain and mountain snow are already falling across portions of the West Coast, but the center of the powerful storm system is swirling off the Pacific coast. The GOES-WEST weather satellite captured a breathtaking image of the bomb cyclone shortly after sunrise Wednesday, with the center of the storm located about 600 miles west of Eureka, California, along the Golden State’s northern coast. A band of clouds stretched thousands of miles southwest across the Pacific Ocean toward Hawaii.
A satellite image showing a powerful bomb cyclone over the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 4, 2023. (NOAA/GOES-WEST)
The incoming storm system to California will unleash a variety of hazards, but perhaps the greatest risk will be the storm’s heavy, flooding rainfall. “Not only will this storm be intense tapping into a substantial atmospheric river, but it is also arriving just days after the previous storm brought heavy rainfall and created significant flooding - increasing the impacts and risks that can occur given the already saturated ground,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. Although California desperately needs as much rain as possible, too much too fast can have deadly consequences, as was the case last weekend when one person drowned in Sacramento County.
Winter storm warnings were in effect Wednesday for parts of California from the northern end of the state, through the Sierra Nevada and to areas just north of Los Angeles ahead of the bomb cyclone closing in on the West Coast. Cities included in the warnings were Mount Shasta, Truckee and South Lake Tahoe. AccuWeather forecasters warn that snow levels in the Sierra Nevada are expected to mostly be above pass level on Wednesday, but colder air will allow them to lower through the night and into Thursday. Heavy snowfall from this storm could potentially lead to road closures along I-80, which was closed for a few hours following snowfall during the New Year’s weekend.
Winter storm warnings (dark blue) were issued throughout California.
As the calendar turned from 2022 to 2023 last weekend, an atmospheric river soaked California in heavy rain, leading to widespread flooding in low-lying areas that swamped highways and forced evacuations. At least two people died during the stormy weather last weekend. A 72-year-old man was killed by a falling tree at the Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz, a city located along the Central California coast. The second fatality was reported in Sacramento County after a person was found inside a submerged vehicle near Route 99.
Downtown San Francisco experienced its wettest calendar day since Nov. 5, 1994, due to the atmospheric river on New Year’s Eve. It was also the city’s second-wettest day in 174 years of record-keeping. The downtown area picked up a whopping 5.46 inches of rain and was just 0.08 of an inch shy of tying the current record. The single-day rainfall accounted for nearly 50% of the entirety of the rain that fell in December.
The storm system also unloaded more than 4 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada. A number of motorists who became stranded on I-80 near Lake Tahoe eventually needed to be rescued, the California Highway Patrol said.
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