US Pacific Coast Hit With ‘Atmospheric River’ Winter Storms
The Pacific coast of the US has been hit by a series of winter storms caused by an “atmospheric river” condition, leading to massive damage across the region.
This comes after winter storms battered much of the Northwest, especially upstate New York, killing dozens of Americans.
The first river-driven storm of the week to hit the West Coast arrived late Monday with strong winds, snow and heavy rain as it moved south.
Atmospheric rivers are powerful currents of moisture that flow over the Pacific and can reportedly carry the same amount of water through the air as the Mississippi River, Bloomberg reported.
Power outages, floods
Massive waves and strong winds battered Oregon and Washington on Tuesday, leading to fatal road accidents, power outages and home flooding.
Five people have lost their lives in road accidents caused by the storms.
A coastal flood warning for the Puget Sound region, including Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, remained in effect through Wednesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
Low-lying property “will be flooded,” the weather service said.
High tides caused 13 homes to flood in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood and also forced road closures throughout the Puget Sound region, the Seattle Times reported.
Our crews are responding to many flood-related emergencies within the district, some including electrical fires. pic.twitter.com/zJe8N53LvD
— GigHarborFire (@GigHarborFire) December 27, 2022
Oregon saw the highest number of power outages in the nation, with more than 160,000 customers affected, according to PowerOutage.
Thousands of customers lost power in the Portland area alone, with a total of 29,069 residents affected, Portland General Electric (PGE) said. About half of that number were affected in Washington.
Work crews tried to restore power, but additional storms brought freezing rain and arctic temperatures, causing delays.
“These winds are blowing debris onto our lines, downing trees and damaging high-voltage transmission lines,” Dale Goodman, PGE’s director of utility operations, said in a statement.
“Sustained winds make it challenging for crews to work safely on bucket trucks and high wires,” he said.
Since the start of these storms, more than 235,000 customer outages have been restored, according to Puget Sound Energy (PSE), which covers most of Washington state.
Air travel throughout the Pacific Northwest is also delayed.
Another storm rolls in
Dense fog plagued California’s Central Valley early Wednesday as one winter storm left the state and another lined up to enter.
The new storm was expected to move into Northern California late Wednesday and overnight, followed by multiple rounds of precipitation throughout the rest of the week and into next week, the National Weather Service said.
Heavy rain is also suspected to cause flooding and mudslides.
By early Wednesday, the trailing edge of that storm had largely slipped out of Southern California, where the next major storm was expected to hit Saturday and stretch into Sunday.
“New Year’s Eve celebrations planned outdoors should include emergency plans,” the Los Angeles weather office wrote.
It comes as California faces its worst drought in centuries, with at least 97 percent of the state below a drought level, Bloomberg reported.
Data from the state Department of Water Resources, however, show that California’s drought-stricken mountain snows, one-third of the state’s water supply, are off to a good start. But experts remain cautious. Last winter had a similar start and then was extremely dry from January to March.
With reports from the Associated Press.