According to local firefighters, an infant was killed Jan. 4 in a home that was hit by a falling redwood tree in the rural Sonoma County town of Occidental. Meanwhile, the Fairfield Police reported that a 19-year-old woman was killed when her car hydroplaned on a partially flooded road and slammed into a utility pole.
An atmospheric river is a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. Other names for this phenomenon are tropical plume, tropical connection, moisture plume, water vapor surge and cloud band. A bomb cyclone, on the other hand, is a term given to a rapidly strengthening storm.
"California just hasn't been used to this for probably the last 20 to 30 years," said Sacramento fire captain Keith Wade. "We're moving through. We have a swift water team that’s prepositioned here in the city of Sacramento."
Coordination efforts are currently being undertaken by the state's emergency operations center to set up sandbagging locations and shelters and deploy ambulance strike teams. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for several neighborhoods with high risk of flooding. Police across northern California continue to evacuate homes as more rain falls.
Rain continued to pound the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California on Jan. 5.
The National Weather Service said any additional rain over already-saturated soils will result in flooding concerns and a Flood Watch remained in effect until the afternoon of Jan. 5. A High Wind Warning expired on the morning of the same day, but the gusty winds left widespread damage behind.
The massive storm system had been forecast to increase the risk of life-threatening flooding, damaging winds and power outages. According to AccuWeather meteorologists, an atmospheric river could send a stream of moisture from the tropical Pacific Ocean some 2,500 miles away, fueling heavy precipitation.
"There is a significant risk for flash flooding, and people should watch for and avoid rapidly rising water which can quickly become life-threatening," warned AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter, reminding the public that flooding could result in street and highway closures.
It was the third storm to bring an atmospheric river over the past month in California. One happened on New Year's Eve, which caused severe flooding and debris flows. (Related: Scientists believe a megaflood is coming that will devastate California.)
Meanwhile, the California Department of Water Resources stated on Jan. 3, that the organization has prepositioned flood fight materials and equipment at 38 different locations. They also deployed levee inspectors before the rainfall. Also, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency ahead of the winter storm on Jan. 4, and authorized the mobilization of the California National Guard.
"California is mobilizing to keep people safe from the impacts of the incoming storm," Newsom said in a statement. "This state of emergency will allow the state to respond quickly as the storm develops and support local officials in their ongoing response."
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Watch Gabor "Gabe" Zolna talk about how the atmospheric river is causing heavy flooding in California below.
This video is from the zolnareport.com channel on Brighteon.com.