Two killed, train derailed as ‘bomb cyclone’ hits California


(NEW YORK) — A “bomb cyclone” is wreaking havoc across an already soaked California, killing at least two people whose vehicles were crushed by falling trees in the San Francisco Bay Area, officials said.

A dramatic drop in atmospheric pressure triggered the so-called bomb cyclone that swept in from the Pacific Ocean and clobbered the San Francisco area. The storm packed heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 90 mph that knocked down trees, blocking major roadways and highways, officials said.

Tens of thousands of utility customers lost power, according to officials.

One person was killed and another was injured in the gated community of Rossmoor, about 25 miles east of San Francisco, when a tree fell on a moving car, according to the California Highway Patrol. Another motorist was killed around 1:30 p.m. local time Tuesday when a toppled tree crushed a work van in San Mateo County, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, according to CHP.

On Wednesday morning, the town of Woodside, about 32 miles south of San Francisco, was under a “highly recommended evacuation” after a mudslide shut down a road, impacting about 30 homes, officials said.

“If you live in this area, please pack your ‘Go Bag,’ with all necessary essentials: insurance policy, pets, medications, a change of clothes, and LEAVE NOW,” San Mateo County officials said in a Twitter post Wednesday. “Once the road gives out completely, residents in that area will not have access to emergency services for the foreseeable future.”

The mudslide unfolded as the National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for Woodside and nearby San Mateo County communities Wednesday morning after about 3 inches of rain fell in the area over a 24-hour period.

The powerful springtime storm is also being blamed for the derailment of an Amtrak train near Martinez, about 35 miles east of San Francisco. The train was carrying 55 passengers when it struck a downed tree on the tracks, according to Amtrak officials. No injuries were reported.

High wind gusts also caused a tractor-trailer rig to overturn on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, blocking the eastbound lanes and snarling traffic during the evening commute, according to CHP.

The winds were so strong in downtown San Francisco Tuesday that it knocked out windows in high-rise buildings, sending shattered glass to the ground, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

San Francisco International Airport recorded wind gusts of 64 mph, while gusty winds reached 74 mph in Oakland. Gusts hit nearly 90 mph between San Francisco and Sacramento.

The “bomb cyclone” developed off the coast of San Francisco Tuesday when the atmospheric pressure dropped 24 millibars in 17 hours, producing the strongest March storm ever recorded in the Bay Area.

The same storm system walloped Southern California Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 100 mph in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles. The town of Lytle Creek in the San Gabriel Mountains recorded more than 6 inches of rain, while nearly an inch-and-a-half of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles.

The weather system is expected to weaken Wednesday, but most of California will remain under a flood watch and high-wind alerts are expected to persist into the afternoon.

The storm, the latest in a series of atmospheric river systems that has nearly eliminated the state’s multi-year drought, is expected to move southeast, bringing severe weather to parts of Texas, Alabama and Oklahoma. Severe weather on Thursday and Friday could produce large hail and damaging winds from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to San Angelo, more than 250 miles southwest of Dallas.

As the storm moves east on Friday, a possible tornado outbreak could form in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, according to the National Weather Service.

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