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California Storms Continue Causing Trouble

Updated: Jan 12, 2023 11:01
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In California, storms have wrought havoc since New Years Eve. South San Francisco Fire Department/Handout

Back-to-back storms have characterized this winter in ways unseen since the nineties. Flash flooding in low-lying areas on surface streets, freeways, busy city intersections and residential zones. Landslides on forested and urbanized slopes closing coastal highways and threatening homes. Washouts that swallow portions of piers and historic promenades have been happening up and down the state. Twenty-five years ago they called it El Niño. Today it’s a bomb cyclone, an atmospheric river, a once-in-a-lifetime event that seems to recur every quarter-century. 

The severity of California’s storms is a mixed bag. While rain in abundance is quenching the landscape’s desperate gasps for water, it arrives on damaging winds. Overnight at SFO, sensors recorded gusts at a sustained seventy miles per hour. The threshold for hurricane-force winds is 75 MPH. 

In other words, we experienced tropical storm-force winds last night that tested the limits of structures around the Bay. Uploaded recordings of lightning striking Sutro Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid appeared on social media. Many residents claimed that the storm woke them from sleep when it struck at just after two o’clock Tuesday morning. 

Damage from this latest system amounted to lost sleep for most, but for some, it affected their homes. Evidence of this lay strewn around the parking lot of a South San Francisco apartment complex. 

A gale-force headache

Image by Noah Berger, Associated Press.

A South City apartment building is missing most of its roof tonight. Upon arrival, Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Samson found a section of reef peeling away from the building like a scab. He told SFGATE that when his department arrived, the patch hadn’t yet detached, posing the risk of more flying debris. His crew found all residents unharmed, freeing them to assess the residence for other hazards.

These storms don’t have to be tropical to inflict that kind of damage. With more showers forecast, the three-story complex on Susie Way is susceptible to further interior water damage. Here in the Bay Area, that means mold. In the meantime, the building’s tenants faced more immediate concerns. The storm had compromised the roof of their home, making it unsafe to stay there. The South San Francisco Fire Department evacuated ten residents to a county-provided shelter. 

Tuesday morning, 189,000 Bay Area residents woke to find the storm had clipped their electricity.

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Jake Warren

Jake Warren

A Potawatomi nonfiction writer and Tenderloin resident possessing an Indigenous perspective on sexuality and a fascination with etymological nuance. Queer decolonial leftist, cannabis industry affiliate, seasoned raver, and unofficial earthquake authority.

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