After drought, US west coast slammed by 'bomb cyclone'

A road closed sign floats on a flooded street in San Rafael, California, on Oct 24, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Severe thunderstorms bringing record rainfall hit northern California on Monday (Oct 25), following several months of gigantic forest fires caused by drought.

The phenomenon, known as a "bomb cyclone," came from the Pacific Ocean and struck San Francisco and Oakland, as well as the states of Oregon and Washington, further north, on Sunday.

The rain caused multiple floods and mudslides, blocking roads, while winds of more than 100kmh tore trees and roofs.

Two people were killed when a tree fell on their vehicle near Seattle.

Sacramento, the capital of California which didn't see any rainfall from March to September, saw an all-time record 5.44 inches (14cm), according to a Monday update from the National Weather Service.

Heavy snowfall has also struck the Sierra Nevada mountain range as the weather front headed east.

The rain has been falling on the dry soils of the drought-stricken western United States, a situation exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

California has been affected for several years by increasingly numerous and destructive blazes, and with a marked lengthening of the fire season.

At the end of July, the area burned in the state was up 250 per cent compared to 2020, which itself was already one of the worst years in terms of fires.

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