San Francisco, Jan 6 (UiTV/IANS) – Authorities have ordered evacuations in parts of northern California and also warned of threats to life and property, especially around San Francisco and Sacramento, as a deadly storm is pounding the US state bringing with it heavy rain and powerful winds.
California has been under a state of emergency since Wednesday with more than 160,000 home and businesses without electricity, the BBC reported.
The powerful storm system known as a ‘bomb cyclone’ has killed at least two people, including a toddler who died on Wednesday evening when a redwood tree fell on his home in Sonoma County.
According to weather officials, much of the state has been hit by “atmospheric rivers” — an airborne current carrying dense moisture from the ocean — bringing heavy rain to low-lying areas, powerful winds to San Francisco and snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said California will continue to be impacted by atmospheric river conditions through Thursday, “with heavy to excessive rainfall, flooding with debris flows and landslides near recent burn scar areas, heavy mountain snow and high winds”.
Rains and winds are expected to die down on Thursday night, before ramping up again over the weekend and into next week, it added.
Bars and restaurants closed in San Francisco and nearby communities on Wednesday, as officials have cautioned against driving on the roads.
Since the mergency declaration, more than 100 flights have been cancelled at the San Francisco International Airport.
Meanwhile, sandbags were distributed to residents to help curb the flooding.
The NWS also said that rivers along the coast are forecast to see widespread flooding due to tidal surges, reports the BBC.
The storm is expected to dump up to 6 inches of rain in coastal areas, and gust up to 128km/h in the coastal hills and mountains.
Classes have been cancelled for Thursday in school districts throughout northern California, including for 8,000 pupils enrolled in south San Francisco public schools.
The storm comes just a year after California recorded one of its driest years on record.
On December 31, 2022, San Francisco saw its second-wettest day in over 170 years.
More than 105 million people across the US are currently at risk of severe weather, according to the NWS.
Further east, some 30 million people are facing large storms that have already produced tornadoes in several states.