California cleans up from one storm as it prepares for another
Days after California was hit by “the most impressive storm in nearly 20 years,” the state — completely saturated in many places — is bracing this weekend for another series of river storms, with flooding, hail, high winds and even snow. funnel clouds possible in spots.
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Another round of heavy rain is already falling Saturday in the Golden State, where extreme drought fueled by the climate crisis has given way in recent weeks to massive flooding amid a catastrophic sequence of ultra-wet atmospheric rivers — long, narrow regions in atmosphere that transports moisture thousands of kilometers. Recent storms have killed at least 18 people and left tens of thousands without power at the same time.
More than 25 million people are still under a flood watch for much of California’s central coast, as well as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Although this weekend’s numbers will be lower than previous storms, the flood threshold is also much lower because the ground is completely saturated in many areas.
“This atmospheric river is more progressive than some of the other atmospheric rivers that have occurred in recent weeks, which should help limit the extent of the flooding potential,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “All that said, pretty much all of California; from the coast and both Shasta and the Sierra Nevada south to the Transverse Range have soil moisture percentages greater than 95%.
“Parts of the state have received 15-20+” rainfall and >600% of normal rainfall in the last two weeks,” they added.
And unfortunately, the rain chances don’t end there: Another storm will bring new rain chances and flooding to much of the state Sunday afternoon into Monday morning before drier conditions settle in. end of next week.
“A more intense increase in moisture is expected Saturday ahead of a stronger Pacific storm system that will move inland during the day,” the forecast center said. “A broader light risk of excessive precipitation is in place for both coastal northern California, where precipitation will continue through Friday, and the steep Sierra regions.”
Rain and snow are also forecast to spread across the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West Saturday through Sunday.
Widespread rainfall totals through Monday will range from 2 to 3 inches along the coast and inland valleys, with 4 to 6 inches possible for the San Francisco Bay area and the nearby Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia Mountains. This is likely to lead to some cases of flooding as well as mud, rocks and landslides.
“Rain is certain with (a chance of rain at) 100% across the area and with deep moisture and heavy rainfall expected, flooding again becomes a concern,” the National Weather Service office in San Francisco said.
San Francisco has already recorded one of the 15 wettest winters on record with more than a month to go. If it ends up with 4 to 6 inches of rain over the next three days, the city will easily crack the top five.
A slight risk of excessive rainfall – Level 2 out of 4 – has been established, mainly due to unusually wet conditions ahead of the forecast rainfall and leading to increased flooding concerns.
“Forecast data has shown instability over the Central Valley late Saturday afternoon and evening, with hail likely to accompany stronger storms and possibly some plume clouds,” the Sacramento weather service office said.
River flooding is also a major concern, especially around the Russian River in Northern California and the Salinas River near Monterey. “Plan for additional disruptions to travel and mountain recreation over the weekend as periods of heavy snow return to the Sierra,” the weather service office in Reno said.
Very heavy snow is also forecast for the Sierra, with 1 to 2 feet possible Saturday and an additional 2 to 3 feet by Monday. “The heaviest snow days will be Saturday and Monday with lighter snowfall in between,” the weather service in Reno said.
Strong winds will also accompany this system, gusting up to 40 to 50 mph in the Sacramento Valley and up to 60 mph in the mountains. This could lead to the downing of trees and power lines located on now extremely saturated soils.
“The system will pack a good amount of southerly winds and a high wind watch is in effect for the mountains of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties – the same strong winds will move into Ventura and LA counties Saturday night ,” weather service. the Los Angeles office said.
The good news is that by the end of the week, the forecast calls for much drier conditions across California, which will allow the soil to dry out and river levels to drop.
“It’s been a long time since Californians were happy to see an extended forecast of below-average precipitation,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. “But after the last three weeks, they certainly are.”