Needed rain, mountain snow to return to California

·4 min read

A couple of weeks after an atmospheric river dumped record rainfall and prolific amounts of snow on parts of California, the Pacific storm train is set to deliver another dose of rain and snow to a large part of the drought-stricken state. However, this time it will come in more manageable amounts.

Another train of storms has been focused on the Northwest so far to start off November. However, most of the rain and snow has been directed toward Washington and Oregon, only briefly clipping far northwestern portions of California at times. AccuWeather forecasters say that will change early this week as a storm dives southward.

Before the storm, rain and mountain snow continued through the end of the weekend across the Cascades, spreading inland into the northern Rockies.

"With snow levels between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, snow could make for difficult travel at times this weekend in locations such as Snoqualmie Pass and Stampede Pass in Washington," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo.

On Monday, a brief break in precipitation is expected across much of the region before the next storm arrives Monday night. As the next storm pushes onshore, rain and mountain snow will stretch from Central California to southern British Columbia from Monday night through Tuesday.

In contrast to the historic storm that struck California a couple of weeks ago, dumping almost 6 inches of rain in one day in Sacramento, California, and over a foot of rain in some spots in the Sierra Foothills, this storm will be much less, but still significant. Where the heaviest rain falls, likely in the coastal ranges of Northern California as well as the western slopes of the Sierra, a general 1-2 inches of rain is expected, with a few isolated amounts of 3-4 inches is also possible.

The threat for localized flash flooding and mudslides, especially in burn scar areas, will still exist, but the threat won't be nearly as widespread as the last storm.

"This storm could bring around 0.50 of an inch of rain generally across the [San Francisco] Bay Area late Monday into Monday night and Tuesday, along with some gusty winds," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

The west-facing slopes of the Central Coast Ranges in California could also receive up to around 0.50 of an inch of rain, however, the storm will quickly run out of steam as it slips farther south. Very little, if any, rain is likely to reach Southern California.

Los Angeles received 0.71 of an inch of rain in October, 0.49 of an inch of which came from the historic storm near the end of October, pushing the total for the month above average. However, no rain has fallen since then.

Despite the record rainfall in Northern California last month, most of the region remain in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Reservoirs across the region are also still reporting well below-normal water levels for this time of year.

AccuWeather meteorologists point out that while this storm will be another good dose of precipitation, and will continue to help move the water tables in the right direction in the region, there's still a long way to go.

In the mountains, heavy snow will also fall once again, however in California snow levels will remain relatively high.

"In the northern Sierra snow levels may fall to 6,000 or 7,000 feet for a time Monday night into Tuesday. Farther south, accumulating snow is likely to remain generally above 8,000 feet," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins.

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"Accumulations will be around 6-12 inches for most above the snow levels, with a few spots up to 2 feet where snow is most persistent," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo. LoBiondo added that any locations that receive up to 2 feet are likely to be well above the snow line, perhaps higher than 8,000 or 9,000 feet depending on the location.

Conditions on Interstate 80 through Donner Pass in California will likely deteriorate Monday night, with several inches of snow likely by Tuesday morning. During the day Tuesday, milder air will arrive and a mix of rain and snow or even perhaps and change to all rain will occur through the pass, a far cry from the roughly 2 feet of snow that fell in the same spot at the end of October.

Farther north in the Cascades, snow levels will be much lower. "In Washington and Oregon, snow levels will be around 3,000 or 4,000 feet," Adkins said. A few inches could fall through Snoqualmie pass, creating some slippery travel along Interstate 90 Monday night into Tuesday. Heavier snow and more difficult travel is more like through the higher Stevens Pass, just east of Seattle.

Farther south, once this storm moves on after Tuesday, forecasters say another stretch of rain-free weather may shape up for much of California once again. By Wednesday, the stormy pattern is expected to continue across the Northwest.

"By late next week, it appears that the active storm track may lift even farther to the north, largely focusing precipitation on northwestern Washington and southwestern Canada," LoBiondo said.

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