the images of the violent storm which left at least two dead

JOSH EDELSON / AFP via Getty Images TOPSHOT – A damaged Valero gas station creaks in the wind during a massive “bomb cyclone” rain storm in South San Francisco, California on January 4, 2023. – A bomb cyclone smashed into California on January 4, 2023, bringing powerful winds and torrential rain that was expected to cause flooding in areas already saturated by consecutive storms. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – The violence of the elements. The center and the north of California were hit by a big storm Wednesday and this Thursday, January 5. At least two people died, including a toddler who was in a mobile home crushed by a tree.

The phenomenon generated gusts measured up to 160 km/h in places and caused torrential rains. It also caused widespread flooding, cut roads and deprived up to more than 190,000 homes of electricity, according to the PowerOutage site. This phenomenon is likely to be followed by other depressions according to meteorologists. On social networks, many videos of the bad weather have been shared, testifying to the violence of the storm.

« Big waves are wreaking havoc in Santa Cruz, Calif. as we speak Several piers have collapsed and beaches have been closed. »

« The Atmos Pier collapses in Santa Cruz County, California. »

This storm swept through California as the region was still suffering from a series of severe lows that swept through it in late December. Several flood warnings were still in effect Thursday in the state and tens of thousands of people were still without power.

« Prepare for the coming storm »

The latest flood dated back to new years eve : it had also caused floods and power cuts and had left the ground saturated with water. According to the US Weather Service (NWS), the city of San Francisco has just experienced its ten rainiest days since 1871, with 25cm of precipitation.

The rain was beginning to subside on Thursday but authorities continued to urge caution. Other rain fronts are expected in the next few days and the soggy soils are unable to absorb this surplus. Flood warnings “remain in effect on both central regions and the California coast, until Friday morning”according to the NWS.

The service predicts a next rainy spell over Northern California and southwestern Oregon as early as Friday evening. “Additional rainfall in the range of 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15.2cm)…could exacerbate the risk of flooding across a fully saturated region”he warns.

« This is what 14cm of precipitation looks like in San Francisco, California. Get ready for the next storm to come. »

“Atmospheric River” + “Cyclone Bomb”the terrible combo

The rain for the past two days came from a “atmospheric river”, a narrow band in the atmosphere, similar to a river, which carries huge amounts of moisture from the tropics. Far from being exceptional in winter, this phenomenon was accompanied by a “cyclone bomb”a system capable of suddenly dropping the pressure and generating strong winds, to give rise to the storm.

« High winds and storms cause the San Rafael transformer to explode! »

While it is difficult to establish a direct link between this storm and climate change, scientists regularly explain that warming increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Like the rest of the American West, California is suffering from a widespread drought that has lasted for more than two decades. In many areas hit by large fires, soils deprived of vegetation are now more vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

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