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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Capitola Wharf damaged by heavy storm waves is seen in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., January 5, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Kelly Pound/via REUTERS
By Fred Greaves
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) -California was bracing on Sunday for more severe weather after a week of torrential downpours and damaging winds killed at least seven people and left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power.
Forecasters warned on Sunday that northern and central California was still in the path of a “relentless parade of cyclones,” promising little relief for the region until the middle of the week.
Two overlapping phenomena – an immense airborne stream of dense moisture from the ocean called an atmospheric river and a sprawling, hurricane-force low-pressure system known as a bomb cyclone – have caused devastating flooding and record snowfall over the past week. The latest storms vividly illustrated the consequences of warmer sea and air temperatures caused by climate change.
At least seven people have died from weather-related incidents in California since the New Year’s weekend, including a toddler who was killed by a redwood tree that fell and crushed a mobile home in northern California.
A woman living in a homeless encampment along the Sacramento River died Saturday night during a raging storm when a tree branch fell on her tent.
Joe Costa, the woman’s neighbor in the encampment, told Reuters on Sunday that he had found her barely breathing.
“I started yelling for 911 … I opened her side of her tent and pulled her out, and she was unresponsive,’ Costa recalled.
First responders performed life-saving measures on the woman before taking her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to local news reports.
Some 400,000 homes were still without power in California as of Sunday morning, according to data from PowerOutage.us. Another severe storm was supposed to hit on Monday.
“The West Coast remains under the target of a relentless parade of cyclones that form and intensify over the Pacific Ocean,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a forecast on Sunday.
In the last week, severe weather spawned violent wind gusts that toppled trucks, flooded the streets of small towns along northern California’s coast and churned up storm surge that destroyed a pier in Santa Cruz.
The heavy rain and snow have caused significant flooding and ground saturation, meaning the next storm to move through this week would bring an additional flood threat, the NWS said.
Five feet (1.5 meters) of snow could fall on the Sierra Nevada mountains by Tuesday.