We've Lost Everything

Storms from a haywire jet stream deluge the far West

Winter is the wet season in Northern California, but this time the rain and snow just would not stop. For nine days a series of storms lashed the area and caused floods, mudslides and avalanches from the coast to Colorado. By the time the clouds began to part late last week, the area's wettest weather in more than 30 years had left at least 18 dead and forced nearly 35,000 people to flee their homes.

The trouble started when the jet stream, which usually carries water-laden air from the Gulf of Alaska toward Canada, dipped south toward Hawaii, then headed for...

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