The second day of spring brought more harsh wintry weather to storm-weary California on Tuesday with torrential rain and heavy winds that left thousands without power.
At least one person was killed on Tuesday when a tree fell on a vehicle in San Mateo county in the San Francisco Bay area, the California highway patrol told media. In Santa Cruz county, one person was injured by a falling tree, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters warned the storm, the 12th atmospheric river on the US west coast since December, would hit southern and central California the hardest. A vast stretch of the region, including most of the greater Los Angeles area, was under flood watches due to the extreme weather, which was expected to spread across the south-west and into the central Great Basin and Rockies by late Tuesday.
With downed trees and power lines closing roads across the region, officials warned residents to avoid travel if at all possible. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist, described the weather as a “sudden violent wind storm” that reportedly snapped trees in half.
The storm, Swain said, is remarkable. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he said, describing its activity on the radar.
Nearly 240,000 customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the nation’s largest utilities, were without power by early afternoon, mostly in the region south of San Francisco, according to PowerOutage.us.