Powerful storm hits California

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The United States

Still reeling from a recent storm that flooded highways, caused widespread power outages and led to several deaths, California officials and residents on Sunday braced for a new storm expected to be bigger and pack a more powerful punch.

Friday’s storm in Southern California dumped up to 10 inches of rain on the region and led to at least five deaths. But as that storm moved on after only a few hours, the new tempest, expected to hit Northern California on 19 Feb and linger through 21 Feb, will be stronger and much bigger, with rain clouds stretching more than 1,000 miles across, said Jim Andrews, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.

Sunday’s impending storm is the latest in a series of disturbances that have dumped much-needed rain in the drought-stricken state beginning last month, he said. "This is the biggest and strongest of these series of storms,” Andrews said.

In Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California, crews were still cleaning up from Friday’s storm that dumped nearly a foot of rainfall and wreaked havoc across the region. Amtrak canceled rail trips along the state’s southern and central coast, and more than 300 flights were canceled or delayed at Los Angeles International Airport because of the weather.

At the height of the storm, more than 82,000 customers of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power were without power, according to the department. Major interstates were flooded and a sinkhole in Studio City, near Los Angeles, swallowed two cars as TV crews filmed the incident.

A national drama unfolded at the Oroville Dam in Northern California when its spillways were damaged by another storm last weekend, forcing the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents. Officials reduced the water levels at the dam in preparation for the new storm.

On Sunday, California emergency management officials readied resources and began coordinating with local officials to deal with potential new mudslides and flooding with the pending storm, said Robb Mayberry, a spokesman with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Officials will keep the State Operations Center active from last week’s storm, he said. Though the rain is welcome after years of drought, the relentless nature of the storms has been somewhat wearing, Mayberry said.

“This seems to be a system that just keeps coming,” he said. “We get dry for a couple of days and a new one comes through.”

The storm won’t necessarily be slow-moving, but its sheer size will make it seem like it’s stalled over the area. The storm’s punishing effects are expected to move in Sunday evening and not leave the area until early Tuesday, Andrews said.

One positive outcome of these back-to-back storms: California could finally see an end to its five-year drought at the end of this winter storm season, he said.

Source: USA TODAY. Feb. 19, 2017. Rick Jervis. New, more powerful storm takes aim at California. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/02/19/california-storm-heavy-rains-drought/98131466/