California Faces Intense Storms Fuelled by Second Atmospheric River Amid Rising Flood Threats

California Faces Intense Storms Fuelled by Second Atmospheric River Amid Rising Flood Threats

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California is bracing itself for another extreme weather event, driven by the second atmospheric river within a short span. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a warning about continuous rainfall over a 48-hour period, primarily targeting areas already impacted by recent heavy showers, including the central coast, the Los Angeles basin, and mountain ranges.

The impending deluge is feared to trigger life-threatening flash and urban flooding, river flooding, and also potentially cause mudslides and debris flows. Furthermore, heavy snowfall and severe winds are predicted that could lead to treacherous travel conditions and destructive high surf along the coast.

In an unprecedented move, the NWS has issued a hurricane force wind warning for the San Francisco region in northern California. These powerful winds could cause significant disruptions, including flight cancellations and diversions from the San Francisco airport. Further south, Los Angeles has received a rare "high risk" flash flooding warning.

Power disruptions have already begun to plague the state, with more than 140,000 homes and businesses reported to be without power on Sunday morning. The storm’s wind impacts are expected to intensify, leading to an increase in outages. 

Communities vulnerable to the severe weather, especially those near mountains or close to wildfire scars, have been placed under mandatory evacuations and warnings. Emergency water releases have been initiated from reservoirs nearing capacity in the Central Valley and Sacramento Valley. 

As the state grapples with the repercussions of last week's storm, the saturated grounds have raised concerns about more rapid and dangerous flash flooding. The NWS has urged residents, particularly those near or in south-facing mountains, to prepare for possible evacuations.

Climate scientist Daniel Swain has predicted several more wet weeks for California, particularly during strong El Niño years when the wet season peaks between February and March. 

The state, which has been battling devastating drought conditions for years, views precipitation as a potential relief. However, the timing and temperature of these storms can determine whether they alleviate or exacerbate the situation. 

The current scenario appears to be a sign of future climate trends, with scientists warning that wetter conditions with smaller snowpacks could become the new norm in a warming world.

News Agencies

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