Home U.S. News Two Big Storms Are Coming to California

Two Big Storms Are Coming to California

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Two Big Storms Are Coming to California

No matter where you are in California, big storms are headed your way over the next several days. Forecasters are warning of back-to-back atmospheric rivers that could lead to flooding, mudslides and road closures between today and Tuesday.

“We could very well receive February’s total normal precipitation within the month’s first five days,” forecasters from the National Weather Service’s office in San Diego wrote early Monday morning.

California needs the rain to stave off drought. The state has gotten only about 81 percent of the total average rainfall expected by this time of year, and the snowpack is just 32 percent of average, according to state data. Water levels at reservoirs are still above average for this time of year because of the bounty of rain we received last winter, but they are not nearly as high as they were a year ago.

The first storm reached the California coast last night, and it is expected to bring widespread rainfall and gusty winds to Northern California today before tapering off a bit and moving into Southern California tomorrow.

It will pack a greater punch in the north than in the south, forecasters told me. Parts of Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties are expected to get two to four inches of rain, and the Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia Mountains may get six inches, according to Nicole Sarment, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office. The North Coast is expected to get up to five inches of rain today and tomorrow.

Flooding is expected in low-lying areas because the soil is already saturated from earlier storms, experts say. Heavy winds may knock down trees and power lines.

Between late Wednesday and Thursday, the Sierra Nevada mountains are expected to get one to three feet of snow, which could force the closures of Interstate 80 and Highway 50.

“Mountain travel for that time frame is highly discouraged,” said Katrina Hand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office.

The storm is predicted to be a moderate atmospheric river, and not anywhere near as severe as the series of storms last winter that led to widespread flooding and historic amounts of snow in the region, according to my colleague Judson Jones, a meteorologist and reporter for The New York Times.

The first of the two storms this week isn’t expected to do much damage in Southern California, said Mike Woffard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Oxnard. Rain will arrive in Los Angeles on Thursday morning, but forecasters aren’t “expecting really anything more than just typical rainy-day kind of stuff,” he told me.

But the second storm could be more intense. Forecasters with the Weather Prediction Center said it was “increasingly likely” that a strong weather system, possibly a “significant atmospheric river event,” would affect California late this weekend and early next week.

That storm, Woffard said, will probably yield four to eight inches of rain in the Santa Monica Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains, and is likely to cause flooding, mudslides and rockslides.

When it comes to storms this rainy season, “for the L.A. area, this will likely be the strongest one so far,” Woffard told me.

For more:

If you live in the Bay Area, chances are you cross a lot of bridges. Which one is your favorite, and why?

Tell us at CAtoday@nytimes.com. Please include your name and the city in which you live.


Dozens of chefs in California are among the semifinalists for this year’s James Beard Awards.

Among the contenders in the “Best Chef in California” category are Geoff Davis of Burdell, a modern soul food restaurant in Oakland; Jihee Kim of Perilla, a Korean banchan shop in Los Angeles; and Sayat Ozyilmaz of Dalida, an adventurous Mediterranean restaurant in San Francisco.

Sylvan Mishima Brackett, the chef at Rintaro in San Francisco, and Rashida Holmes, the chef at Bridgetown Roti in Los Angeles, were named semifinalists in the “Outstanding Chef” category, and other buzzy Golden State restaurants and bakeries, including Kiln, Fat + Flour and Lazy Bear also made the list.



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