A powerful storm that meteorologists called a "bomb cyclone" has slammed California's Bay Area. The "bomb cyclone" and an "atmospheric river" brought more than half a foot of rain, forcing evacuations in areas hit by wildfires, and ushering in stay-at-home orders in other parts of the state.
The massive "bomb cyclone" caused mudslides and flooding in Northern California. There were reports of flooding across the San Francisco Bay Area, with heavy winds pulling down power poles and leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity.
Mudslides, Flooding and Power Cuts
Over 160,000 homes and businesses in California, more than 170,000 in Washington, and over 28,000 in Oregon were left without power on Sunday due to the extreme weather, reported the USA Today. Two people lost their lives when a tree fell on a vehicle in the greater Seattle area.
The deluge was not limited to the Bay Area, as landslides and dangerous road conditions were reported in areas across Northern California, reported The New York Times. In Truckee, north of Lake Tahoe, the California Highway Patrol said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon that rocks and water had fallen down a mountainside, blocking a road.
Bomb Cyclone- An Intense Weather Event
According to meteorologist Mark Chenard of the Weather Prediction Center at the National Weather Service, up to 10 inches (25cm) of rain was expected to fall on the West Coast.
"It's an atmospheric river already moving through Northern California," he said.
He described the storm as a "bomb cyclone" - an intense weather event caused when the pressure within the atmosphere drops quickly.
Bomb cyclones occur when air near Earth's surface rises quickly in the atmosphere, triggering a sudden drop in barometric pressure â at least 24 millibars within 24 hours.
Large Wildfires this Year
Apart from the drought, California has faced a particularly difficult year for wildfires, as six million acres have been burned in the state since the beginning of this year, the Times reported.
Reports from earlier this month suggested that about one in every eight acres of the state had been burned by wildfires in the past decade.
With California's water situation rapidly deteriorating following another dry winter, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced an expanded drought Proclamation of Emergency that affects all of the Southland. He asked residents to redouble their water conservation efforts.