California hurricane: State hit by strong winds, heavy rain
SAN FRANCISCO –
Strong winds and heavy rain hit California on Thursday, knocking tens of thousands of people out of power, causing flash flooding and killing a child after a tree fell on a house.
Officials ordered evacuations in a high-risk coastal area where landslides killed 23 people in 2018 when a major hurricane made landfall in the state Wednesday. Authorities warned residents to stay indoors in anticipation of flooded roads, fallen trees and other risks.
In Sonoma County, Occidental Volunteer Fire Director Ronald Lunardi said a child believed to be under the age of 2 died Wednesday night after a tree fell on a home, The Press Democracy reported.
The storm dumped rain in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, where the area has been under flood warnings. In Southern California, the storm is expected to peak early Thursday, weather forecasters said, with Santa Barbara and Ventura counties likely to experience the most rain.
“We anticipate this could be one of the most impactful and challenging hurricanes to hit California in the past five years,” said Nancy Ward, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. .
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said at a news conference that the city is “preparing for a war.” Teams cleared clogged storm drains, attempted to move homeless people into shelters, and distributed emergency supplies and ponchos to those who refused to go.
The city distributed so many sandbags to the people that the supply was temporarily depleted.
Strong winds of 85 mph (136 km/h) or more forced the cancellation of more than 70 flights at San Francisco International Airport, and toppled trees and power lines. Firefighters rescued a family after a tree fell on their car. The fire department said “large pieces of glass” fell from the Fox Plaza tower near the Civic Center, although no injuries were reported. “Most likely” the damage was wind-related, the department tweeted.
According to poweroutage.us, more than 180,000 homes and businesses were without power in California as of early Thursday.
The storm is the latest of three so-called atmospheric river storms last week that reached drought status. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to allow rapid response and assist with cleanup from another powerful storm that made landfall just days earlier.
In Southern California, people living in areas burned by the three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County, where overnight heavy rain is forecast to cause widespread flooding and create debris stream.
Among the towns ordered to be evacuated was Montecito, where five years ago huge boulders, mud and debris swept through the mountains through town to the coast, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100. House.
Elsewhere, a 45-mile (72 km) stretch of coastal Highway 1 that runs through Big Sur was closed Wednesday night due to predicted flooding and rock slide. Further north, a 25-mile (40-kilometer) section of Highway 101 was closed due to several fallen trees.
Drivers are advised not to go out unless absolutely necessary, especially when there is heavy snowfall in the mountains.
Evacuation orders were issued in Santa Cruz County’s Paradise Park along the fast-flowing San Lorenzo River, as well as in areas along the Pajaro River. Residents fleeing wildfires in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2020 packed their belongings as the towns of Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Felton were all warned they should prepare to evacuate.
The Sonoma County government has issued an evacuation warning for a series of towns along the Russian River.
The storm came days after New Year’s Eve downpours led to evacuations in Northern California and rescued some motorists from flooded roads. Several dikes south of Sacramento were damaged and at least four people died from the flooding.
The storms will not be enough to officially end the ongoing drought in the state, now in its fourth year, officials said.
Associated Press writers Janie Har in San Francisco and Sophie Austin in Sacramento contributed to this report.