California clears from one storm as it prepares for another

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Days after California was hit by “the most impressive storm in nearly 20 years”, the state – fully saturated in many places – is preparing this weekend for another series of river atmospheric events, with floods, hail, strong gusts of wind and even funnel clouds possible at points.


Another round of heavy rain is already falling on Saturday in the Golden State, where extreme drought fueled by the climate crisis has in recent weeks given way to massive flooding amid a catastrophic sequence of ultra-wet atmospheric rivers – long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport moisture thousands of kilometers. Recent storms have killed at least 18 people and left tens of thousands without power.

More than 25 million people are again under flood watch across much of California’s central coast, as well as in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. While this weekend’s rainfall count is lower than previous storms, the threshold for flooding is also much lower because the ground is fully 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 potential flooding,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “All that said, almost all of California; from the coast and Shasta and Sierra Nevada in the south to the Cordillera Transversal have soil moisture percentiles greater than 95%.”

“Parts of the state have caught 15-20+” of rain and >600% of normal rain in the last two weeks,” they added.

And sadly, the chances of rain don’t stop there: another storm will bring new chances of rain and flooding to much of the state from Sunday afternoon through Monday morning, before drier conditions finally arrive late next week. week.

“A more intense increase in humidity is expected on Saturday ahead of a stronger Pacific storm system that will move inland throughout the day,” the forecast center said. “There is a broader slight risk of excessive rain both in coastal Northern California, where rains will continue from Friday, and in the Sierra Mountains regions.”

Rain and snow are also forecast to spread across the Pacific Northwest and west of the mountains Saturday through Sunday.

Overall precipitation totals through Monday 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 will likely lead to some instances of flooding, as well as mud, rocks and landslides.

“Rain is certain with (chance of rain) 100% across the area and with deep humidity and heavy rainfall expected, flooding once again becomes a concern,” the National Weather Service office in San Francisco said.

San Francisco has already had one of the 15 wettest winters on record, with more than a month to go. If it ends up getting 4 to 6 inches of rain over the next three days, the city will easily crack the top five.

A slight risk of excessive rain – Level 2 of 4 – alert activated, mainly due to the extremely wet conditions that precede the rain forecast and lead to increased flooding concerns.

“Forecast soundings have shown some instability over the Central Valley behind the front late Saturday afternoon and into the evening, with hail likely to accompany stronger storms and perhaps some funnel clouds,” the weather service’s office said. in Sacramento.

River flooding is also a major concern, especially around the Russian River in Northern California and the Salinas River near Monterey. “Plan for additional breaks to mountain travel and recreation over the weekend as periods of heavy snow return to the Sierra,” the weather service’s office in Reno said.

Mandatory evacuations for parts of San Benito County were ordained On Saturday, residents of impacted areas were forced to leave their homes due to “severe flooding,” according to an online county post.

Neighbor Santa Clara County issued updated evacuation notices to residents this weekend. Residents are being encouraged to gather essential items such as personal items, important documents, clothing and non-perishable food items.

“Community members are also encouraged to stay out of roads, stream beds, waterways and fast-moving waters,” the statement said.

Very heavy snow is also forecast for the Sierra, with 1 to 2 feet possible on Saturday and an additional 2 to 3 feet by Monday. “The days with the heaviest snowfall will be Saturday and Monday, with less heavy snowfall in between,” the weather bureau’s office in Reno said.

Strong winds will also accompany this system, with gusts of up to 40 to 50 mph in the Sacramento Valley and up to 60 mph in the mountains. This can lead to downed trees and power lines in now extremely saturated soils.

“The system will be packing a decent amount of southerly winds and a high wind warning is in effect for the mountains of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties – the same high winds will move into Ventura and LA counties by Saturday at night,” the weather service said. office in Los Angeles 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 California residents have been happy to see an extended forecast of below-average precipitation,” said CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller. “But after the last three weeks, they certainly are.”

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