LOS ANGELES--Heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds hit most of storm-battered California on Sunday, forecasters said, knocking out power and threatening flooding and mudslides.
The storm is the second Pineapple Express weather system, or atmospheric river storm, to hit the state in the past week and arrives as Los Angeles welcomes scores of celebrities for the music industry's glitzy Grammy awards. The severe conditions prompted the National Weather Service's (NWS) Bay Area office to issue a rare hurricane-force wind warning for Big Sur and nearby areas. "It is quite extreme at the moment," Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles, said of the gusts sweeping the region in a live-stream on Sunday. The NWS recorded peak wind gusts of 80 mph or higher (129 kph) in some locations across the state. The intense weather system cut off power to over 323,000 homes and businesses by Sunday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us. The power company with the most outages was Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) with over 261,000 customers out of service. PG&E said in a release that it activated its Emergency Operations Center to tackle the winter weather. Marking another rare event, the weather agency put a large swath of southern California under a "High Risk of Excessive Rainfall" through Monday. "This is a DANGEROUS SYSTEM with major risks to life and property. Substantial flooding. Residents should heed any evacuation orders," the Los Angeles office of the NWS said on social media. "Stay off the roads, especially the freeways, this afternoon through at least Monday morning."