California Faces Potentially Lethal Storm

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A road in Sonoma, California was closed down due to the flooding caused by the mega atmospheric storm in California (Image Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, February 5th, Southern California experienced life-threatening flooding due to a powerful atmospheric river. It has caused problems like mudslides and power outages affecting big cities, especially Los Angeles.

To better understand the situation, knowing more about an atmospheric river is crucial because it is what caused this powerful storm. Atmospheric rivers are long and slim areas in the atmosphere that take water vapor outside the tropics. NOAA describes it as “a river in the sky”. Atmospheric rivers can vary by quite a lot in terms of size and ability. The largest atmospheric rivers are created by large amounts of water vapor, creating enormous amounts of floods and rainfall. But, this storm specifically is said to be much slower and have a longer duration of rain, contributing to higher repercussions.  

The storm and its repercussions were devastating. This storm affects more than 1.4 million people in the Los Angeles, Hollywood Hills, and Beverly Hills areas. There was more than 9 inches of rain in the area, according to the National Weather Service. Los Angeles has over 475 mudslides just in this storm alone. It affected the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas, flooding roadways. 

People all over California with different professions have come together to help promote safety and clean up the flooded areas. Areas near San Francisco with high winds faced the threat of large trees and electrical lines toppling over, causing a hazard to cars and people in the area. Tragically, a man died in Yuba City due to a fallen tree. The storm was so dangerous, that there were evacuation orders in Santa Barbara County due to the mudslides in the area, and caused classes to be canceled. Palisades Tahoe was also affected and warned people, as the atmospheric river not only caused rain but promoted large, heavy amounts of rainfall in the area. Another repercussion of the storm was also the numerous power outages throughout California— Specifically, over 800,000 customers didn’t have electricity statewide, the number increasing as the storm continues. Moreover, people in Northern California have also been facing the effects of the flood. The California Department of Transportation (CDT) has worked to ensure safety in several different methods. CNN Weather reports, “The CDT crew monitor wildfire burn scar areas, others deal with the snow and ice in the mountains, and crews along the southern coast watch for heavy flooding.” It was important to evacuate canyons that had recently been affected by the wildfire because the rain right after would cause massive amounts of mud and waste flow. Rain and wind in California caused flights to face delays in the San Francisco Airport and caused over 100 flight cancellations on Sunday, February 4th. 

The storm finally came to an end on Thursday, February 8th. The storm in the past week was deadly, causing a statewide death toll of nine people who were killed by the trees and passed away during car wreckages in different areas of California. It is still predicted that the storm will be back after a matter of nine days, and are asking people in Southern California in areas near burn scars to evacuate. This storm is predicted to be just the start.  

Written by Divya Saha

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