"The concern right now in Southern California is that the rain and the atmospheric river has been stalled," a climate scientist said Monday
At least three people were killed by fallen trees as a powerful atmospheric river-fueled storm unleashed heavy rain, strong winds and mudslides throughout California.
Robert Brainard III, 45, died when a tree fell on his home in Boulder Creek on Sunday around 3:20 p.m. local time, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office told PEOPLE in a statement. Another person who was there was able to make it out of the house.
Hours later, the Yuba City Police Department said in a Facebook post that a second man died when "a very large redwood tree in his backyard" fell onto him.
"Through the investigation, it appeared he was possibly using a ladder to try and clear the tree away from his residence when it fell on him," police shared. "The reporting party, who was also a neighbor, last saw the male around 3 PM this afternoon and believed they heard the tree fall around 5 PM this afternoon. "
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Chad N. Ensey, 41, also died when a tree fell on him in his backyard in Carmichael, The Sacramento Bee reported. The Sacramento County Coroner's Office confirmed Ensey's death, classifying it as an accident.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that the storm was “remarkable and in some ways historic,” noting that the storm reached the status of a bomb cyclone as it converged in on the state Sunday.
“The concern right now in Southern California is that the rain and the atmospheric river has been stalled, mainly over the same place it has been for the past 18 hours,” he said during a briefing Monday, per the Times.
The National Weather Service said that rain totals will be "trending downward" across Southern California compared to the last couple of days, and the risk for flooding and mud and debris flows remains given the previous wet conditions.
Much of Southern California was under flood watches and the NWS has cautioned people to stay on alert amid the risks of drowning, according to the Associated Press
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