As the country’s continuous winter weather crisis became even worse, a tornado ripped through a southern California city on Wednesday, tearing roofs off buildings and tossing vehicles around. Montebello, a city close to Los Angeles, was swept by a swirling mass of wind that broke windows and sent locals running for cover.
After violent winds destroyed trees and hundreds were left in the dark across the state due to extensive power disruptions, the storm has been linked to five deaths in the Bay Area. Moreover, five daily rainfall records were broken in the area.
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The storm that hit California on Tuesday, the first day of spring after an unusually long winter, was brought on by an interaction between a Pacific low-pressure system and the state’s 12th atmospheric river since late December, according to the National Weather Service.
“Trees are down everywhere,” resident Frank Kuhr said as he waited for officials to remove large redwoods that were blocking a highway near his home in Santa Cruz county. “The wind has been unbelievable,” he said. “Branches were flying through the air, and folks could hear trees just falling and cracking.”
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The severe winds in San Francisco made it difficult for people to even walk. Authorities also reported that windows spanning 20 storeys of a skyscraper had broken as a consequence of the strong winds.
Furthermore, an Amtrak commuter train carrying 55 passengers derailed after colliding with a downed tree close to the settlement of Porta Costa across the Bay. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and the train stayed upright.
“This is a pretty significant tornado by (California) standards since it hit a populated area, clearly caused damage, and may have caused injuries,” meteorologist Daniel Swain wrote on Twitter.
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According to Carrie Monteiro, a spokeswoman for the emergency operations center in Tulare County, more than 700 buildings have been destroyed.
Before everyone is given the all-clear to go home, utility firms will inspect their water, sewage, and electricity systems for any potential damage.