The second storm in California in a week brings heavy rain, strong winds and power outages. By Reuters


©Reuters. Palm trees blow in wind and rain as the first of two consecutive storms brings heavy rain to Southern California in Encinitas, California, U.S., February 1, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Blake


By Maria Caspani

(Reuters) – Heavy rain and hurricane-force winds hit much of storm-hit California on Sunday, meteorologists said, knocking out power and threatening floods and landslides.

The storm is the second Pineapple Express weather system, or atmospheric river storm, to hit the state in the past week and comes as Los Angeles welcomes dozens of celebrities to the music industry’s glitzy Grammy Awards.

The severe conditions prompted the Bay Area office of the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a rare hurricane-force wind warning for Big Sur and nearby areas.

“The situation is pretty extreme right now,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, referring to the gusty winds that swept through the region in a live stream on Sunday.

The NWS recorded peak wind gusts of 80 mph or more (129 kmh) in some locations across the state.

According to, the intense weather system knocked out power to more than 323,000 homes and businesses by Sunday afternoon.

The power company with the most outages was Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E (NYSE:)) with more than 261,000 customers out of service. PG&E said in a statement that it activated its emergency operations center to deal with the winter weather.

In another rare event, the weather agency placed a large swath of Southern California under a “high risk of excessive precipitation” through Monday.

“This is a DANGEROUS SYSTEM with serious risks to life and property. Considerable flooding. Residents should heed any evacuation orders,” the Los Angeles office of the NWS said on social media. “Stay off the roads, especially highways, from this afternoon until at least Monday morning.”

The coastal city and port of Long Beach, near Los Angeles, could receive more rain this week than in an entire year, said Mayor Rex Richardson, who expects 13-18 cm (5-7 inches) from Sunday to Tuesday.

Los Angeles could be hit by as much wind and rain as Tropical Storm Hilary brought in August, Mayor Karen Bass said.

California’s southern and central coasts are bracing for an inch of rain per hour for a total of 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 cm), the U.S. National Weather Service said. Up to 6-12 inches are expected in the foothills and low elevation mountains.

The Los Angeles and Santa Barbara areas were both at high risk for excessive precipitation Sunday and Monday, with forecasters predicting “nearly continuous rain” for the next 48 hours.

Evacuation orders were issued for some residents of those counties, as well as residents of the San Jose region and Ventura County.

With the ground already saturated from last week’s storm and streams swollen, the potential for flooding is even higher, meteorologists say.

Rain will transition to heavy snow at higher elevations in the Northern California mountain ranges and Sierra Nevada, with total accumulation of several feet expected for the Sierra region through Tuesday and snow rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour , NWS said.

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