A strong late-season Pacific storm brought damaging winds and more rain and snow to a busy California on Tuesday as the first full day of spring was not unlike an extraordinary winter in the state.
The storm concentrated most of its energy in the central and southern parts of the state, bringing the threat of heavy runoff and mountain snowfall that forecasters say will be measured in feet. To the north, heavy hail was recorded in Sacramento, the state capital.
Trees and power lines were reported downed in the San Francisco Bay Area. An Amtrak commuter train carrying 55 passengers crashed into a fallen tree and derailed near East Bay Village in Porta Costa. According to Amtrak officials and firefighters, the train remained upright and no one was hurt.
According to the California Highway Patrol, in the Portola Valley Bay area, a man driving a garbage truck died when a tree fell on him.
In the Monterey Bay area, a strong ocean hurricane hit Santa Cruz County with winds up to 80 mph (129 km/h) at noon. Along the coastline of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, sea foam flew like large snowflakes along the roads.
Wind gusts reached 76 mph (122 km/h) in the mountain communities of Santa Cruz, including Boulder Creek.
Resident Frank Kuhr waited for hours Tuesday afternoon at a downtown supermarket while crews removed large sequoias that were blocking the highway. “Trees are down everywhere,” Kur said. “The wind was incredible. Branches flew through the air and people could hear the trees falling and cracking.”
“That’s bullshit,” Kur said.
About 210,000 customers were left without power across the state, mostly in the area south of San Francisco, according to PowerOutage.us.
The National Weather Service said the storm is a low-pressure Pacific system interacting with California’s 12th atmospheric river since late December.
The unexpected siege of California by rainy weather after years of drought also included February blizzards brought on by arctic air.
Storms caused flooding and covered the mountains with so much snow that the roofs were destroyed, and the crews struggled to keep the highway from avalanches.
Mammoth Mountain Resort in the eastern Sierra Nevada has announced that it will remain open for skiing and snowboarding until at least the end of July.
With 634 inches (16.1 meters) of snow falling in the main lodge to date, there is likely only one more storm.