February 2, 2023

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A “Hurricane Bomb” Hits California: “We’re Very Concerned”

Northern California, particularly the areas around San Francisco and Sacramento, are most at risk. Officials have issued several warnings, warning that the storm has the potential to kill people.

Wind gusts of up to 110 km/h are expected on Wednesday, according to the US Weather Service (NWS). The most intense rain is also expected to hit the area, with up to 10 centimeters of rain expected in San Francisco Bay and 1.2 meters of snow expected in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Flooding is expected to continue on Thursday.

According to the NWS, the region should prepare for “major flooding, submerged roads, landslides, downed trees, major power outages, immediate disruption of business and, worse, possible loss of life.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning to facilitate emergency response and streamline authorities’ response to an incident.

San Francisco has set up an emergency operations center.

“If you don’t have an obligation to be outside in San Francisco, avoid the road,” warned Rachel Gordon, an official with the city’s Department of Public Works.

Bars and restaurants there were closed Wednesday, and some residents were asked to work from home. City firefighters reported several downed trees Wednesday morning and some minor flooding before the heart of the storm arrived.

Thousands of sandbags have been distributed to residents of flood-prone areas.

“We are very concerned,” San Francisco resident Deepak Srivastava told CBS. “I piled sandbags in front of all the entrances to the garage, and fingers are crossed that there’s no more damage.”

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Series of storms

“There was a similar flood in October,” sighs his wife, Denise Srivastava. “They’re calling it the storm of the century, but it looks like we’re going to get two in a week.”

Northern California is still reeling from a series of storms.

Landslides and power outages on a recent New Year’s Day. Officials say at least one person has died after their car got stuck in the flood.

On December 31, San Francisco recorded its second wettest day since the initiative began, with 14 centimeters of rain.

Under these conditions, the region’s soils, drained by the drought that has plagued the American West for two decades, will have difficulty absorbing a new deluge, increasing the risk of flash flooding.

“This storm is likely to cause localized flooding and landslides,” meteorologist Matt Solam told AFP. “But with the recent wet conditions … any additional rain will run off rather than soak into the ground.”

The rain expected on Wednesday comes from a narrow, river-like “atmospheric river” in the atmosphere that carries large amounts of moisture from the tropics.

In winter, without exception, this current phenomenon is accompanied by a “hurricane bomb”, which is capable of causing a sudden drop in pressure, thus creating very violent winds.

According to meteorologists, the series of storms currently hitting California is not going to stop.

“We expect another one by the end of the week,” said Mr. Solam declared. “And then there’s going to be a lot of storms next week, and maybe the week after.