The atmospheric river storm that was bearing down on the Bay Area Wednesday night and Thursday morning raised concerns about mudslides, power outages and other problems. And a series of new storms headed our way this weekend means the end is not yet in sight.
An atmospheric river taking aim for California was expected to bring heavy rains to an already-drenched San Diego County overnight Thursday, creating the possibility for flooding, downed trees and big waves for the first week of the New Year. The atmospheric river, which is a term used to describe heavier-than-normal rains that pull moisture from the tropics, inundated Northern and Central California on Wednesday, prompting evacuations, causing power outages and other damage.
The atmospheric river storm hitting California this week presents a test for an experimental waste-capturing system that’s intended to keep plastic bottles, diapers and other trash from flowing into the Pacific. It has even captured a couch. The solar-powered system, designed to work mostly autonomously, was introduced in October at the mouth of Ballona Creek near Playa del Rey.
In a world getting used to extreme weather, 2023 is starting out more bonkers than ever and meteorologists are saying it’s natural weather weirdness with a bit of help from human-caused climate change. Much of what’s causing problems worldwide is coming out of a roiling Pacific Ocean, transported by a wavy jet stream, experts said.
A successive series of powerful atmospheric river storms poses a growing threat to California as the ground becomes more saturated, river levels rise and heavy winds threaten the power infrastructure. This week’s storms are expected to dump intense levels of rain in a fairly short period of time. The greatest potential for disaster is in Northern California, which has already been battered by several destructive storms — including one this weekend that caused a deadly levee breach.
Drenching rains forecast to pummel California on Wednesday and again over the weekend are poised to be the third and fourth major storms to march through in less than two weeks, raising the prospect of more misery in a season that has already brought flooding, debris flows and power outages to parts of the state. Over the weekend, rescuers scoured rural areas of Sacramento County looking for people trapped in homes or cars.
After the driest start to any year on record, California will end 2022 with snow-capped mountains, soaked roadways and — in some places — flood warnings. The soggy end to an otherwise bone-dry year came as something of a surprise. Only weeks earlier, officials sounded the alarm about a rare third appearance of La Niña — a climate pattern in the tropical Pacific that is often associated with dry conditions in the state.
Some western residents are breathing a sigh of relief after recent atmospheric river storms have drenched the drought-parched region, and more are on the way. However, scientists caution that it is too early to celebrate. “At this point in time, we still have another four or five months in our snow season and in our typical rainy season,” said Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Lab.
As the United States begins to recover from a week ofthat left dozens dead, more storms are already in the forecast. An began moving through California on Tuesday, with another atmospheric river predicted for later in the week.
Bay Area residents would do well to keep their gloves handy, as they’ll be fighting a parade of storms that started on Boxing Day. Monday’s contender brought light showers and winds that evolved into heavy rainfall and intense winds by the Tuesday morning rush hour. In parts of the East Bay hills, Peninsula and North Bay highlands, winds gusted over 50 mph and were accompanied by intense rainfall across the region, where totals exceeded an inch and a quarter at both official downtown San Francisco and Oakland weather stations. More torrential downpours came down over the Santa Cruz Mountains and North Bay highlands, where stations like Felton and Mt. Tam exceeded 4 inches of rain.