On Thursday, waves of heavy rains pounded California, trapping people in floodwaters, triggering a mudslide, washing away a mountain highway that destroyed many homes and forced residents to flee communities scorched by wildfires last year.
According to a report, two people died as the powerful system swept in from the Pacific Ocean resulting into damaging snow, wind and rain.
A day earlier, the system was moving across the U.S. West into Wyoming and Colorado after walloping Northern California and southern Oregon.
The National Weather Service reported staggering rainfall amounts across California, including more than 9.4 inches (24 centimeters) over 48 hours at one location in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles.
A woman was pulled out from the rising waters in a low-lying area between those mountains and LA, died at hospital after a heart attack, said Capt. Ryan Rolston with the Corona Fire Department. She was among those nine people and three dogs rescued in a flood control channel where homeless people camp.
Firefighters pulled the body of a man from a concrete-lined waterway, in Escondido, northeast of San Diego. According to witnesses, the man had been paddle-boarding in the surging waters.
An unstable mudslide barreled over the cars, in North of San Francisco, uprooted numerous trees and caused a home in Sausalito sliding about 75 yards down a hill, smashing into another house across the street.
It’s been years since a storm so powerful has hit the hillside community, where at least 50 properties were evacuated said Chris Parkman.
“We don’t see the rain most of the year, so you feel safe throughout that part of the year. But when the big storms strike, the safety factor is totally gone,” he said.
Atmospheric Rivers brings the threat of mudslides, flooding to California
Atmospheric rivers unleashed heavy rains that brought threats of mudslides and flooding to a region which is already been slammed by days of rain and heavy snow.
The National Weather Prediction Center had already warned about the heavy rainfall, storm and the floods on Thursday few hours before the storm actually hit the area.
What is an Atmospheric River?
The weather system, known as Atmospheric River, is a huge plume of subtropical moisture, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The storm system is a part of this atmospheric river.
These are relatively long, narrow regions I the atmosphere such as the rivers in the sky which transports most of the water vapor outside off the tropics, according to NOAA. These vapors move along with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor almost equal to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Later, the storm with heavy rainfall on Thursday spawned flood warnings across the region which urges the residents to move away from the areas that were recently burned in wildfires with the fear that heavy rains will likely to trigger rockslides, mudslides and debris flows.
The rain was so heavy that It sounds like a hudred bowling balls per minute are going down the creek.
Wintry weather closed Interstate 80 across much of Wyoming and sections of at least four other highways. Multiple avalanches disrupted highway traffic in northwestern Montana near the Idaho border too.
In Colorado, high winds shattered windows and downed power poles, leaving thousands in Colorado Springs without power.