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Bomb cyclone razes San Francisco with hurricane-like force

(Bloomberg) — A bomb cyclone slammed into Northern California, packing hurricane-like winds that toppled power lines, shattered windows in downtown San Francisco and toppled a big rig from the Bay Bridge to Oakland.

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Heavy rain and wind gusts up to 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour lashed the area, halting travel and causing at least one death in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco. The local office of the National Weather Service said on Twitter that flood warnings were in place for the Bay Area since morning.

The weather service said in a statement that the low pressure system will gradually weaken on Wednesday, although its outer edge will spread to the southwest and into the Rockies. “Travel is likely to be dangerous to difficult”, with additional snowfall of up to 2 feet (0.6 m) expected in mountainous areas.

The flight was delayed early Wednesday at San Francisco International Airport. About 137,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power as of 3 a.m. local time, according to the website On Tuesday, a train between Oakland and Sacramento derailed after coming into contact with a tree, halting service just before the evening commute.

“It was a violent, sudden thunderstorm,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We’re probably seeing effects that are similar to a strong tropical storm or a weak hurricane.”

California has been hit by a series of storms known as atmospheric rivers since late December, bringing flooding rains and record snowfall to the Sierra Nevada and other mountains. More than 20 people have died and billions of dollars in damage have been caused by damaged roads, submerged homes and power outages.

Read more: California’s severe drought is almost over after big storms

Santa Cruz County, about 75 miles south of San Francisco, appeared to be hit by an atmospheric river again on Tuesday. Reports of downed power lines and car crashes hit the county fire station.

In Tulare County in the Central Valley, officials ordered evacuations ahead of the storm as levee breaches in the past week increased the potential for widespread flooding. In the event, the state prepared swift-water rescue teams.

— Brian K. Sullivan and Brian Wingfield.

(Updated with latest details from second paragraph.)

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