Second atmospheric river in days blows into California, knocking out power and flooding roads

By CHRISTOPHER WEBER (Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The second of back-to-back atmospheric rivers drenched Northern California on Sunday, flooding roads, knocking out power to tens of thousands and leading forecasters to warn of possible hurricane-force winds and mudslides as it heads south over the coming days.

The storm system knocked down trees and power lines in the San Francisco Bay Area, where winds topped 60 mph in some areas. Gusts exceeding 80 mph were recorded in the mountains, and nearly 175,000 customers were without electricity statewide, with most of the outages in the northern part of the state, according to poweroutage.us.

“We’re not out of the woods yet — strong winds will continue through the early evening today,” the Bay Area’s National Weather Service said.

Much of the state was still drying out from the system that blew in during the week, causing flooding and dumping welcome snow in mountains. The latest storm, also called a “Pineapple Express” because its plume of moisture stretches back across the Pacific to near Hawaii, arrived in Northern California on Saturday, when most of the state was under some sort of wind, surf or flood watch.

“This storm is predicted to be one of the largest and most significant in our county’s history, and our goal is to get through it without any fatalities or any serious injuries,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters Saturday. Classes were canceled Monday for schools across the county, which was devastated by mudslides caused by powerful storms in 2018.

Evacuation orders and warnings were in effect for mountain and canyon areas of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

By early Sunday, the weather service issued a rare “hurricane force wind warning” for the Central Coast, with wind gusts of up to 92 mph (148 kph) possible from the Monterey Peninsula to the northern section of San Luis Obispo County.

The rain forced organizers to postpone the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Monterey County until Monday.

The storm was expected to move down the coast and bring heavy rain, possible flash-flooding and mountain snow to the Los Angeles area late Sunday, before moving on to hammer Orange and San Diego counties on Monday. Heavy to moderate rain is expected in Southern California until Tuesday.

The weather service forecast up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rainfall across Southern California’s coastal and valley areas, with up to 12 inches (31 centimeters) likely in the foothills and mountains. Forecasters warned that mudslides, debris flows and flooding are likely.

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