Don't put away your umbrella yet: Cold storm system moves into California, bringing more rain and snow

Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

Here we go again: A powerful Pacific storm moved into California on Tuesday, promising to deliver strong winds, low temperatures and even more rainfall to the waterlogged state.

The "cold and vigorous storm system" originated in the Gulf of Alaska, the National Weather Service said. It will strike Northern California on Tuesday and make its way south and east through Wednesday, keeping high temperatures in the 50s across much of the state.

The storm will likely result in "more downed trees and power lines and power outages," but is not expected to be as violent as the "bomb cyclone" that struck the state last week, said UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain.

"I don't think there's going to be a repeat of that, even though the impacts from this storm will be higher than a storm of this magnitude would usually be, just because there's been so many strong storms that have preceded it," he said.

The San Francisco Bay Area, where widespread power outages and at least 5 deaths were reported during last week's storm, was already seeing showers Tuesday morning when it was shaken by a 3.5-magnitude earthquake.

The incoming system was expected to strengthen over Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties as well as the San Francisco peninsula throughout the day, with 50-mph wind gusts, 1 to 2 inches of rain and the possibility of low-elevation snow. Up to 7 inches of snow could fall near the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains along the central coast.


Further inland, the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada were also bracing for widespread rain and heavy mountain snow.

The Sierra could receive up to 4 feet of fresh powder from the storm, while the Coastal Range and Shasta County mountains could see up to 3 feet, said Chelsea Peters, a meteorologist with the weather service in Sacramento.

"We had a couple of weeks' break there in late January and into February, but otherwise it's kind of been nonstop," she said of the state's wet season. "This winter has been abnormally wet overall, and then on top of that, significantly anomalous in terms of the snowfall that we've seen, particularly in the Sierra."

Statewide snowpack was 227% of normal for the date on Tuesday, according to state data. In the southern Sierra, it was 284% of normal — an all-time record.


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