San Francisco – The end of the 2022 wet season will be even more flooded, with another atmospheric river flooding California over the weekend, posing a new threat of flooding rains and heavy snow.
What is an atmospheric river?Earth’s largest freshwater river is in the sky
There was already a steady stream of rain in the northern tip of the state Friday morning as rainfall “fire hoses” began to land. First stop on the final trek down south across the state.
Floodwatch covers millions of people across northern and central California’s coastal regions and inland canyons, including the Bay Area and Sacramento region.
Northern California will continue to bear the brunt of moderate to heavy rain on Friday, according to the FOX Forecast Center, with atmospheric rivers concentrating the anger in central California and the Bay Area from late Friday night through Saturday morning.
With nearly 36 hours of continuous rain, puddles in roadways, uplifts in creeks and streams, and flooding of burn scars pose a hazard.
A steady stream of rain will spread south into Southern California on Sunday, when Northern California will take a break after the Los Angeles and San Diego areas start to see rain in 2023.
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Storms Friday through Sunday total about 2 to 4 inches of precipitation in the coastal lowlands from southwest Oregon to northern and central California, with more in the foothills.
About 3 to 5 inches of rain is likely in inland valleys, including Sacramento, by Saturday night, and about 1 to 2 inches in Southern California on Sunday. Even in dry areas such as Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, storms can bring about half an inch to an inch of rain.
This storm can bring 2-5 feet of snow to the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and about 1 foot of snow at pass level, which can impact travel.
But when snow levels reach 7,000 to 8,500 feet, many of the mountains instead receive several inches of rain, putting pressure on local rivers. Flash floods are another concern, especially in areas scarred by recent wildfires.
What are “Category 5” atmospheric rivers?The scale aims to rate nature’s greatest flooding
Rain in California turns to snow in the Rocky Mountains
Rain and snow will spread over the Rocky Mountains through Sunday, according to the FOX Forecast Center.
Especially in the morning and evening commuting hours, the impact of movement can be considered.
About 1 to 3 feet of snow can fall in the mountains, and winter storm warnings have been issued before this snowfall is expected.
Salt Lake City should continue with the majority of the rain event with perhaps an inch or two of snow towards the end of the weekend, but heavy snowfall is expected in the Wasatch Range.
Denver expects 3-5 inches of snow, which could make commuting difficult in the next few days. Several spinouts were already plaguing Thursday morning’s commute, according to FOX 31 Denver.
In addition to snow, avalanches are possible in most mountains over the weekend.
Soggy start to 2023
The calendar year may change on Saturday night, but the wet weather pattern along the west remains the same.
Additional storms are set to pass through California about every 48 hours next week.
Long-term forecast charts show that many parts of California could see 4 to 8 inches of total precipitation by the end of next week from multiple storms.
Will Atmospheric Rivers Affect California’s Drought?
A few inches of rain in the forecast this week, on top of what has already fallen this winter, is certainly a boon in a region that has been plagued by years of drought. Helpful, but the area still has a long way to go.
“At this point, we still have four to five months into the snow season and the typical wet season,” said Andrew Schwartz, principal scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Lab. That means we’re scoring a touchdown in. At this point, we’re still three quarters away and a lot can happen.”
Extra Winter Precipitation Needed to Stop California Drought, Scientists Say
Schwartz said last year’s winter season got off to a good start with record-breaking mountain snowfall in December. “But from January he didn’t get any rain through March, and we didn’t see as much rain as we wanted for that period.”
But even the normal snowfall season isn’t enough to keep the area out of the drought.
“Right now, realistically, we need a day’s worth of winter rain,” Schwartz said. “So it’s not going to happen in a year. We’d probably be at least three or four times above average before we really talk about coming out of the drought.”
During the average season, the lab sees 30 feet of snow. An extra season’s worth of snow means 60 feet in a year. It’s a very “high job to take on,” he said.