Officials in California are urging drivers to stay off the roads as it is hit by a series of strong storms Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of California Department of Transportation/Twitter
Jan. 4 (UPI) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency Wednesday to aid relief efforts as the Golden State braces to be hit by a series of storms, the likes of which it has not seen in years.
Some communities in the Western state on Wednesday were attempting to recover from a New Year's Eve storm that slammed California, killing at least two people, when Newsom issued the emergency declaration as a bomb cyclone rapidly intensified off its coast.
A bomb cyclone, according to the National Weather Service, is a low pressure system that experiences a drastic fall in pressure over a 24-hour period.
The NWS is forecasting heavy rain and snow and strong winds with the potential for flood threats on Wednesday night through Thursday for Northern California with Southern California to be hit Thursday night.
Nancy Ward, director of Newsom's Office of Emergency Services, said the state was currently experiencing the second in a series of storms that may continue for the next 10 days.
"We anticipate that this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years," she said during a news conference Wednesday. "Consequently, if the storm materializes as we anticipate, we could see flooding, mudslides and power outages in many communities."
In anticipation of the storm, Newsom has activated the State Operations Center to its highest level, and his emergency declaration is in support of emergency relief efforts, including mobilizing the state's National Guard.
"The governor was clear in his directive: to take every available action to keep Californians safe during these storms," Ward said.
Evacuations have been ordered for parts of Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties, with officials urging the public to stay off the roads statewide.
"If you don't need to be on our roadways we're asking you please, stay home, avoid those non-essential trips -- at least until the peak of this storm subsides," Tony Tavares, director of the California Department of Transportation, said during the press conference.
According to poweroutage.com, nearly 175,000 customers in the state were without power as of 7:30 p.m. PST.
The NWS described the weather in a Wednesday evening update as a Pacific storm and a series of atmospheric rivers. A high surf of more than 10 feet is also expected for San Diego County with urban flooding possible for Orange County and the San Bernardino mountains where rainfall is forecast to be heaviest, it said.
Another round of heavy rain and snow is set to hit the state on Sunday through Monday, it said, with the series of storms to continue until the middle of January.