Devastated California faces billions of storm damage to crops, homes and roads – Orange County Register

By David R Baker, Kim Chipman, Mark Chediak, Brian K Sullivan | | Bloomberg

The costs of California’s relentless winter storms continue to rise. And apart from the human toll that has killed at least 28 people since January, the price will be measured in billions.

The “bomb cyclone” that hit San Francisco on Tuesday was the latest in a string of spectacular extreme weather events to hit California since New Year’s Eve. Skyscraper windows were blown out, barges were thrown onto historic bridges, trees crossed roads, power lines collapsed, and major highways became dangerous as the foothills began to collapse, flooding them. exposed.

Just south of it, in the Santa Cruz area, the river that flooded the town of Pajaro a week ago has risen again, bringing fresh rain to already submerged nearby strawberry fields. And on Wednesday, the National Weather Service confirmed that a rare tornado hit the Montebello industrial area east of downtown Los Angeles, injuring one person and damaging several buildings.

Road repairs, home destruction, crop loss, the cost of this havoc will not be known for months. But early estimates are sobering.

Known as America’s Salad Bowl, the Salinas Valley region is a key growing hub for the supply of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes in the United States, and crop damage can be as high as $500 million, costing the region The broader economic impact of could reach $1.2. Christopher Valades, president of the Central California Producers and Shippers Association, a trade association representing farmers, processors and exporters in the region, said:

A landslide threatening a San Clemente apartment on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 is being monitored by geologists after a storm. (Photo credit: Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Officials in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, where roads were washed away and a popular sea pier destroyed, said the storm has so far cost $88 million in damage to public infrastructure and $49.5 million in crop damage. We are estimating dollars.

Tuesday’s damage added to the destruction California suffered in January as three weeks of heavy rains caused flooding and landslides across the state, closing roads and homes. Moody’s RMS, a risk modeling service, estimates the statewide cost of January’s floods and infrastructure damage at $5 billion to $7 billion. AccuWeather Inc. puts its own estimate much higher than his $30 billion.

A dramatic reversal of fortune. After three years of severe drought, California has endured 12 “atmospheric rivers” since late December. The weather system pumps intense steam from hundreds of miles across the ocean and can carry as much water as the Mississippi River at its mouth.

Tuesday’s storm added a ‘bomb cyclone’ to the river. This was a rapidly intensifying cyclone system that created winds and created a hurricane-like eye that hit San Francisco directly.

A tropical storm gust of 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 117 kilometers per hour) was reported across Auckland’s Bay for seven consecutive hours, according to AccuWeather.

AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said, “The effects of this event were similar to those of a powerful tropical storm that made landfall. Perhaps the nearest residents of San Francisco would experience the weather phenomenon.” It will be,” he said.

High tide caused flooding on the Pacific Coast Highway at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, CA on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. The beaches in this area are getting narrower every year. (Photo credit: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

According to the National Weather Service, downtown San Francisco has received 30.69 inches of rain since October 1, 11.35 inches more than normal. Los Angeles in the same period he received 25.74 inches, 13.27 inches taller than normal. On Tuesday, the city recorded 1.43 inches for him. This is a dated record.

San Francisco has blocked part of downtown’s busy Mission Street after a window fell from a nearby tower. A historic bridge near the city’s baseball stadium was closed to vehicle traffic after it was hit and damaged by a wind-blown barge. Meanwhile, Interstate 580 in Altamont Pass, one of his main highways connecting the city to the Central Valley, had its lanes blocked by workers after the ground beneath it began to slide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday: A new system is coming.

The storm caused so much destruction in so much terrain that Newsom declared a state of emergency in 43 of California’s 58 counties. Each is unique in its required damage and repairs.

Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the governor’s Emergency Services Agency, said costs from the recent string of storms are likely to rise over the coming weeks as officials assess the damage. It comes on top of more than $1 billion in damage to homes and public infrastructure from a series of deadly storms in January.

MONTEBELO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 22: People gather near a fallen tree as a tornado hits the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello, California on March 22, 2023 and may have destroyed the roofs of buildings. Another Pacific storm hits California with heavy rain, high winds and snow. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, roads are blocked by landslides that cannot be removed quickly. The California Department of Transportation posted footage Monday of State Route 70 in Plumas County buried in a collapsed hillside, warning it has no estimate for when it can reopen.

For some industries in the state, the extreme weather was bad, but nothing more. FilmLA, which manages filming permits for movies and TV shows in the Los Angeles area, said it experienced many cancellations and requests to reschedule projects in the first wave of the storm earlier this year. Many producers are currently trying to plan their shoots around the weather forecast, so applications are being submitted that include rainy dates.

Operations in California’s busy ports were occasionally slowed by storms.

Alan McCorkle, CEO of Yusen Terminals LLC in the Port of Los Angeles, said the wind stopped the container from being unloaded twice. “We also had a situation a few weeks ago when the wind knocked over some empty containers in the garden. There was,” said McCorkle. But even this year, he said, such events are rare.

But the state’s vast agricultural industry has taken a direct hit. The back-to-back storms hit farmlands along the Central Coast particularly hard, threatening to inundate strawberries and leafy green vegetables and straining the nation’s agricultural supply.

The 99-year-old Ocean Mist Farms, the largest producer and supplier of artichokes in North America, says heavy flooding and unseasonably cold temperatures have delayed crop growth in the region for weeks. said Mark Munger, senior director of marketing at the company. Family farming business.

“Shoppers should probably expect very limited supplies in April. Vegetables could not be planted on time, and other vegetables like romaine lettuce could also be harder to find next month. Shortages are about to push up retail prices.

Floods have already damaged citrus and almond orchards and dairy farms in Tulare, Central Valley County. When spring runoff begins in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, even more water flows downstream into farmlands. “The creamery has to close temporarily because of the flooding,” said Tricia Stever Bratler, executive director of the Tulea County Agriculture Department. “There could potentially be tens of thousands of acres of cultivated land under water.”

–With help from Laura Curtis, Christopher Palmeri and Joe Deaux.

©2023 Bloomberg LP Devastated California faces billions of storm damage to crops, homes and roads – Orange County Register

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