John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
It’s been a week of savage weather on the West Coast.
This week the atmosphere has been delivering a speed bag-quick pummeling of storms to the West Coast—drenching, gusty systems backed by the power of El Niño (which by one measure is now tied for the strongest on record).
The soggy spanking has conjured spectacles not often seen in California, including at least one twister, a foul river of garbage, and cars sunk like shipwrecks in the streets. With more rain expected, images like these will no doubt continue to surface. Here’s a taste of what’s out there so far.
A swimming Lamborghini
Perhaps the No. 1 thing emergency personnel stress to motorists in wet weather is not to drive through flooded roadways. This Lamborghini enthusiast didn’t get the memo or doesn’t care, bulldozing through muddy, door-deep water on an impatient quest to get across town.
Both a waterspout and a tornado were spotted Wednesday just south of L.A. Strong gusts also pushed a mobile home entirely upside-down in Paso Robles and made a street look like a bomb went off in Vernon.
Resources at scene of a mobile home blown over by high winds in rural Paso pic.twitter.com/bM8z2ZCUjM— CAL FIRE SLO (@CALFIRE_SLO) January 6, 2016
Sewer Old Faithful
A gurgling fountain of storm water, presumably issuing from a manhole, appeared in Santa Barbara.
Please do not drive or swim through this seeming regurgitation from 10 dumpsters, as the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department says it is “non-passable.”
Trash and debri flowing through Tijuana River Valley at drainage along Hollister and Monument. Non-passable. pic.twitter.com/UGF5lqYtJg— SDFD (@SDFD) January 5, 2016
A worker with Caltrans District 7, responsible for L.A. and Ventura County, doggedly tries to unclog plugged storm drains with what looks like a rake.
How hard is it to get the smell of urban swamp water out of car upholstery? The residents of San Diego’s Mission Valley will find out in coming weeks.
At least on San Diego man wasn’t too upset with the flooding.
“Parade of storms”
An animation posted by the CIMSS Satellite Blog shows repeated bands of atmospheric moisture hitting the West Coast this week. For those interested, the blog also has an entrancing view of a “parade of storms that have hit California (now over the intermountain West and the Plains), are hitting California, or will hit California.”