Strange weather ravages California

Extreme conditions negatively impact communities


Photo Courtesy of George Ross (Getty Images)

Over the past few weeks, a powerful rainstorm has rampaged throughout California, leaving damaged buildings, flooded streets and destroyed structures in its path. In addition to the cold temperatures brought on with this extreme weather, these other negative impacts were detrimental to California communities.

This storm, called a “bomb cyclone” or “atmospheric river”, brought significant damage to 41 out of the 58 counties in California. This particular storm, named for its exponential growth over a small amount of time, had proved to be fatal with at least 17 recorded deaths thus far. 

In Northern California, evacuations became increasingly common. In Sacramento County, an enormous amount of flooded roads and freeways resulted in the county encouraging some residents to evacuate in fear the roads would become too flooded to allow the residents to leave. In the San Francisco area, ​​more road closures occurred. 

The California Highway Patrol said a section of U.S. 101 — one of the state’s main traffic arteries — was closed indefinitely south of San Francisco because of flooding,” said National Public Radio

With these conditions occurring throughout California, many local areas have been affected in negative ways. On local roads and highways such as the Pacific Coast Highway, floods have been prevalent as water drains from mountains like the nearby Santa Monica Mountain Range. 

Even though significant amounts of rain falls throughout California, the state’s ongoing drought remains. This is due to the intensity of the storm, as the water cannot be absorbed by the ground. Instead, the water runs off, only creating more flooding. 

Compared to past years, the weather of this year has been much more extreme as the temperatures have decreased and precipitation has greatly increased. In January of 2022, the maximum average temperature was 65.75 degrees with the average precipitation totalling 0.01 inches. In January of 2023, the maximum average temperature was 56.83 degrees Fahrenheit while the average precipitation was a whopping 0.27 inches.

As 2023 began with these unprecedented conditions, many communities were unprepared for the impact of this weather. On Jan. 5, 2023, a rockslide occurred on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, on Big Rock Drive. The blockage caused multiple lanes on the freeway to be closed for part of the day, but the rockslide was cleared by mid-afternoon. Events like these have occurred throughout California, causing people to adapt to the changing weather conditions.

As the weather continues to change throughout California, it is crucial that communities are prepared for any incoming weather. Although extreme weather has not been historically common in the Oak Park area, community members must watch out for and make any necessary arrangements for unprecedented conditions. Currently, there are no severe storms like these predicted to occur in the near future.

“Our message to Californians is simple: be hyper-vigilant,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.