Rain storm bound for California offers ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Rain storm bound for California offers ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

However, more wind and rain is expected to hit much of California and the Bay Area on Sunday, adding to nearly three weeks of devastating atmospheric river storms that have caused flooding and mudslides across the state as they hit the Sierra Nevada with piles of snow.

The bulk of the moisture is expected to hit the Bay Area early Sunday afternoon and continue through midday Monday, said Colby Goadley, a National Weather Service meteorologist. It’s likely to mark the last major burst of rain to hit the region for the foreseeable future — potentially giving the region a chance to recover from a near-unbroken line of storms that began in late December.

Another .5 to 1 inch of rain is expected to fall in low-lying areas of the region during the storm, while 1 to 2 inches of rain is forecast for the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Central Coast. While rainfall totals are not as high as previous storms, Goadley noted that the region remains at risk of flooding due to extremely saturated soils that simply cannot handle any more water.

“The ground is still saturated,” Goadley said. “There will still be many opportunities for runoff and localized flooding. We just want everyone to keep paying attention. But hopefully this is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

A flash flood watch remains in effect for nearly the entire Bay Area through Monday evening. In addition, a coastal flood advisory is also in effect for areas along the Pacific coast due to a combination of high tide cycles, high winds and high runoff.

Winds on Sunday and Monday are expected to be less ferocious than previous storms, with gusts over urban centers expected to gust 10 to 20 mph, while higher elevations and coastal regions could experience gusts of 20 to 30 mph.

“Thankfully this is not as nefarious a system as some recent events,” Goadley said.

Rain fell across much of the Bay Area Sunday morning, providing a prelude to the next round of storms later in the day.

As of 7:30 a.m., about two-thirds of an inch of rain had fallen over most of the lower-lying parts of the Bay Area over the previous 24 hours, according to rain gauges maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. San Jose received up to 0.43 inches of rain in that span, while up to 1.75 inches fell in the Oakland Hills. The Santa Cruz Mountains received anywhere from .91 to 2.56 inches of rain.

To the east, the Sierra is expected to be swept by snow once again, with 12 to 18 inches of fresh powder expected to fall over the Donner and Echo passes Monday evening. Up to two feet of snow could fall over Ebbetts, Sonora and Tioga passes.

🌧️ Another round of precipitation will bring periods of moderate rain and moderate to heavy mountain snow to inland #NorCal through Monday.

Keep monitoring the latest forecast at https://t.co/WjKBsJmkq2 and road conditions at https://t.co/6jnhwJwcfC #CAwx pic.twitter.com/HPqASvWVjk

— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) January 15, 2023

It adds to impressive snowfall totals across the Sierra Nevada in recent weeks, which have pushed the area’s snowfall to double its normal average for this time of year.

About 7.5 feet of snow fell at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Summit in the past week alone, the weather post reported Sunday morning. That included nearly two feet of snow over the past 24 hours and 42.7 inches of snow since Friday morning.

The meteorological station has already received 92% of the snow that normally falls by April 1.

One last round of rain could hit the Bay Area Wednesday afternoon, though this system should be nothing like the previous line of storms that have flooded the region in recent weeks. Rainfall totals Wednesday are expected to reach barely 0.1 inch for most of the region during that weather system, Goadley said.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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