California closing out the year with heavy rain, Sierra snow
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A new series of storms began dropping more rain on California Thursday, raising concerns that the already drenched northern and central parts of the state could see flooding when a potent atmospheric river arrives by the weekend.
In the Sierra Nevada, up to another 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow is possible in the mountains above Lake Tahoe, where a winter storm warning stretches into Sunday morning.
“While the rain will be light to moderate at times through Friday, this rain will continue to saturate the soils, and prime the pump for potential flooding,” the National Weather Service’s San Francisco Bay Area office said.
A strong Pacific storm with a deep tap of tropical moisture that brought widespread light rainfall to the region Thursday will bring moderate-to-heavy rain Friday night through Saturday evening, resulting in the rapid rise of rivers, streams and creeks, the weather service said.
The week’s first storm moved through the state late Monday through Tuesday, and the saturated soils did not get a chance to dry out before the rains returned. The pattern is expected to continue into next week, the service said.
On Thursday, the Sierra Avalanche Center issued a backcountry avalanche watch for the Tahoe area and to the south into Sunday morning. Weekend winds are forecast to gust up to 100 mph (160 kph) over ridgetops, and to 50 mph (80 kph) at lake level, where waves could reach 6-feet (1.8-meters) high, the National Weather Service in Reno said.
The Truckee River running through downtown Reno, Nevada was expected to crest below flood level. But city and county officials said they were setting up more than a dozen sandbag locations as a precaution.
Southern California’s weather will be cool and showery through Friday before moderate-to-heavy rain arrives on Saturday, forecasters said.
The region will begin drying out on New Year’s Day and the Jan. 2 Rose Parade in Pasadena should avoid rainfall, but spectators who camp overnight along the route to ensure a good view could face temperatures in the upper 30s or low 40s.