'Bomb Cyclone' Causes Massive Damage in California

At least 2 died in 'Pineapple Express' storm
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 6, 2023 4:19 AM CST
'Bomb Cyclone' Causes Massive Damage in California
Damage to an apartment building can be seen after a tree toppled over in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.   (AP Photo/Godofredo A. V?squez)

Hurricane-force winds, surging surf, and heavy rains from a powerful "atmospheric river" pounded California on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands, causing flooding, and contributing to the deaths of at least two people, including a toddler whose home was crushed by a falling tree. Raging seas damaged two historic piers, rock and mudslides closed down highways, and deep snow piled up at ski resorts in the latest in a series of atmospheric rivers—long plumes of moisture stretching far over the Pacific—to reach the drought-stricken state. The "Pineapple Express" storm originated near Hawaii and was pulled toward the West Coast by a rotating area of rapidly falling air pressure known as a bomb cyclone, the AP reports.

Even as rains were expected to let up and some evacuation orders lifted Thursday, crews were assessing damage, trying to restore power and beginning the cleanup while bracing for more wet and wild weather this weekend that could be particularly troublesome for communities along swollen rivers. The blustery tempest that came ashore Wednesday knocked out power to more than 180,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us. In Sonoma County, Aeon Tocchini, a 2-year-old boy, was killed when a redwood tree crumpled a section of his family's mobile home where he had been sitting on a sofa, authorities said. In Fairfield, a 19-year-old woman died after her vehicle hydroplaned on a flooded road and hit a utility pole, police said.

The seaside village of Capitola in Santa Cruz County, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, suffered possibly the worst damage as waves that were forecast to top 25 feet crashed into homes and restaurants at the mouth of Soquel Creek and knocked out a section of its historic wooden pier. Hurricane-strength gusts as high as 101mph toppled trees onto buildings and roads, knocked out power lines, and blew down the roof on a gas station in South San Francisco. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to allow for a quick response and to aid in cleanup from another powerful storm that hit just days earlier. Sonoma County authorities issued an evacuation warning for a string of towns along the Russian River, where greater flooding was expected by Sunday.

(Read more California stories.)

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