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California grapples with ‘atmospheric river’

The latest of 11 weather events since December last year, called the “atmospheric river,” has been wreaking havoc on the US state of California with severe hurricane-force storms that began the previous day.

The National Meteorological Service announced that wind speeds reached 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour in San Francisco, and 150 to 160 kilometers (93 to 99 miles) per hour in the Santa Clara and Alameda areas.

Due to strong winds, the public transportation system in San Francisco was disrupted, while windows of many skyscrapers were smashed, with trees and power poles toppled.

According to the PowerOutage website, more than 330,000 homes and businesses were left without power in the central and northern parts of the state, mostly in the Santa Clara area, due to heavy storms and heavy rains.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that he declared a state of emergency, increasing the state’s 43 counties to 58, while an estimated 30 million people across the state are under a flood warning.

California Governor’s Emergency Services also shared the information that more than 70,000 people are under evacuation orders across the state due to heavy rains, and about 27,000 people are under evacuation orders.

While a large area was flooded due to the overflow of the Pajaro River in the Monterey region, 8,500 people in the surrounding area were evacuated and close to a thousand people were placed in shelters.

The California Department of Water Resources announced that the state’s higher elevations in the southern Sierra Nevada region recorded the largest snowfall ever recorded, 260% above the seasonal average.

The National Weather Service warned that storms and precipitation will ease, starting on Thursday, but a new atmospheric river weather event will hit the state next week.

California has been hit by 11 consecutive atmospheric rivers of severe weather waves since December. Strong weather events, fueled by arctic air that created blizzard conditions with long clouds of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, caused heavy rain, storms, and snowfall at high points in the state.

According to reviews in local media, 22 people have died so far in floods and landslides caused by severe weather conditions caused by atmospheric rivers.

In addition to the atmospheric rivers in California, arctic weather also affected the north-central parts of the country and the northeastern states of New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, with snowfall of up to 1 meter (3.2 ft).

Meteorologists say a new atmospheric river surge is expected to be more effective in most parts of California on March 21-23.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that atmospheric rivers are typically 3 to 5 kilometers (1.8 to 3.1 miles) high, 400 to 600 kilometers (248 to 372 miles) wide, and can stretch and travel up to thousands of kilometers.

Atmospheric rivers that form over the warm ocean in the form of long and narrow air corridors cause severe weather conditions like hurricanes when they reach the land.

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