Stormy weather returns to California, bringing rain, wind and mountain snow

Courtney Spamer

After a drier-than-normal start to 2020, a pattern change will bring rain and snow to much of the state later this week.

Through Tuesday, several storms will move through the Pacific Northwest, allowing for snow rain and snow to reach the far northern parts of California.

During this time it will seasonally cool and dry across the rest of California.

A storm, which will first come ashore in Oregon late Tuesday night, will dive southward throughout the day on Wednesday.

Gusty winds will move into Northern California for Wednesday afternoon and evening, with gusts as high as 40 mph.

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"The storm will spread rain and snow from northwestern California early on Wednesday, reaching the Bay area and Tahoe National Forest overnight," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert.

Much of this area has only seen a few opportunities for wet weather so far this year.

"This storm will bring some much-needed rain to San Francisco and the Bay area," said Reppert.

As of Jan. 13, San Francisco has recorded less than 0.30 of an inch of rainfall since the beginning of the year. The normal total rain amount for the entire month of January is over 4 inches, putting the city well-behind pace.

Rain is expected in the foothills of California, with snow remaining above 3,000 feet Wednesday afternoon. However, the potency of the storm and the cold air it will bring along with it will allow snow levels to fall as low as 1,500 to 2,000 feet by Thursday night.

"The drastic fall of snow levels will even allow wet snowflakes to mix in with the rain along the Northern California coastline," added Reppert.

Meanwhile, the highest snowfall totals will remain inland in the higher elevations. By Thursday night, more than 2 feet of new snow could fall across the highest peaks north of Redding, and in the northern Sierra Nevada region.

As the storm dives southward through Central and Southern California, most locations will see precipitation falling as rain.

"For much of coastal Southern California, this is likely to be the most substantial rain event since around Christmastime," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Enough cold is expected to reach Southern California, that snow could fall in the Grapevine and other mountain passes in the region Thursday and Thursday night.

Whether it is rain or snow, travel delays are expected for motorists across California on Wednesday and Thursday. Parts of interstates 5, 10, 15, 40 and 80 could experience slowdowns and increased accidents. Drivers should plan ahead, and check road conditions before heading out.

Some air travel delays are also possible, including major hubs like San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

Once the storm exits California, it is expected to reach the center of the country with snow north, rain south and a wintry mix in between by week's end.

Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.