At least two people, including a baby, have died after a bomb cyclone struck the US west coast, leaving 170,000 without power. Heavy rain and wind speeds of 85mph has struck central California, as residents are warned to charge their phones with more outages anticipated.
The freak weather pattern – the second bomb cyclone in the to hit the US in the last three weeks – is causing 45-foot waves out at sea, leading to rising water levels in the San Francisco area.
In the Bay Area, a baby died after a tree fell onto a home, while the body of a woman was discovered outside of a vehicle on Wednesday.
Officials discovered the woman’s body around 10am in a field about one mile east of State Route 99, CHP said.
Evacuations have ordered in response to the storm, with a state of emergency declared in California.
It comes just two weeks after at least 60 people were killed after a bomb cyclone brought heavy snowfall to the US, with eastern areas such as New York badly hit.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flood watch and high wind warning for the entire Bay Area in northern California, saying that wind gusts were expected to down trees and cause power outages.
It warned the North Fork Dam was compromised and water would overtop its spillway by Thursday morning.
The NWS urged anyone in low-lying areas beneath the dam to “move to higher ground immediately”
“We anticipate that this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years,” Nancy Ward, the new director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, added.
Meanwhile, coastal cities in the Golden State were issued evacuation orders Wednesday over potential mudslides and flooding.
The first evacuations were ordered for those living in areas burned by three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County, where heavy rain forecast for overnight could cause widespread flooding and unleash debris flows.
County officials did not have a firm number for how many people were under evacuation orders, but Susan Klein-Rothschild, a spokesperson in the county’s emergency operations centre, estimated it was in the hundreds.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has also issued numerous evacuation orders for southern parts of the county throughout Wednesday due to concerns over potential flooding and debris flow from storm conditions.
Earlier on Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom authorised state National Guard units to support disaster response by declaring a state of emergency.
A bomb cyclone is a less technical term meteorologists often use to refer to a storm that has undergone bombogenesis, or a rapid strengthening defined by specific criteria.
California’s storm comes just days after the battled with a similarly lethal weather event over New Year’s.
At least three people died in the last storm of 2022, with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office confirming to ABC10 on Wednesday a body was recovered from inside a car near Galt in Sacramento County.
The car was found submerged, marking at least the third death since last weekend’s atmospheric river soaked California in heavy rain.
Also during the storms, a 72-year-old man was killed by a falling tree at the Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz, and another death was reported after being found inside a submerged vehicle in Sacramento County.