A massive cyclone crashed into Northern California earlier this week, leaving many in the affected areas without power and reeling from massive flood damage. Winds in the region were clocked at over 80 miles per hour, with some sources claiming gusts were climbing as high as 110 mph. The aftermath of the storm can only be described as pure chaos. Airports in the Oakland and San Francisco area saw numerous flight delays, multiple trains were derailed by flooding, and over 137,000 homes have been without power since Tuesday. The cyclone is thought to be the tail end of what has been a series of violent storms that have rocked the region since December and caused billions of dollars in damages.
By David Baker, Mark Chediak & Karen Breslau; March 22, 2023
A bomb cyclone slammed into Northern California, packing hurricane-like winds that toppled power lines, shattered windows in downtown San Francisco and caused a big rig to overturn on the Bay Bridge to Oakland.
Heavy rain and wind gusts as high as 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour lashed the region, upending travel and leading to at least one death in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco. A flood advisory is in effect in the Bay Area throughout the morning, the National Weather Service’s local office said on Twitter.
The low-pressure system will gradually weaken Wednesday, however its outer edges will ripple through the Southwest and into the Rockies, the weather service said in a statement. “Dangerous to difficult travel is likely” there, with as much as 2 feet (0.6 meters) of additional snowfall expected in mountain areas.
San Francisco International Airport saw flight delays early Wednesday. About 137,000 homes and businesses across the state remained without electricity by 3 a.m. local time, according to the website PowerOutage.us. On Tuesday, a train between Oakland and Sacramento derailed after contact with a tree, shutting service just before the evening commute.
“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.”
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.
Santa Cruz County, about 75 miles south of San Francisco, on Tuesday again appeared to suffer the brunt of an atmospheric river. Reports of downed electrical lines and car crashes swamped the county’s fire dispatch center.
In the Central Valley’s Tulare County, authorities ordered evacuations in advance of the storm after levee breaches over the past week raised the prospect of wider flooding. The state prepositioned swift-water rescue crews, just in case.