A plume of moisture from the Pacific Ocean is expected to bring additional rainfall to the US state in the coming days.
Weather forecasters are predicting another round of heavy rainfall in California, which has struggled to cope with flooding and power outages from a “atmospheric riverthat soaked the west coast of the United States this weekend.
Atmospheric rivers are long columns of moving water vapor that usually release heavy rain and snow as they reach land. The U.S. National Weather Service expects a second atmospheric river to flow into California from the Pacific Ocean and bring more rain to California late Tuesday.
“Rainfall today looks modest, but the system after that continues to look impressive,” the agency’s San Francisco Bay Area bureau wrote on Twitter Monday. “Wind during the January 4-5 rain event increases the risk of fallen trees and power outages. Gusts of 35-55 mph, locally higher over ridges are possible.”
As of Monday, several areas of Northern California were under flood watch, meaning conditions favorable for rising water levels, or flood warnings, meaning flooding is imminent. The weather service predicted that some coastal areas could receive as much as 6 inches (152 mm) of rain from the incoming storm.
The rock stars who are part of the night shift have put our radar back into precipitation mode in preparation for our rain today. #CAwx
Precipitation today looks modest, but the system after that continues to look impressive.
Here are the fresh precipitation forecasts out of the oven: pic.twitter.com/cqfVSduAKM
— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) January 2, 2023
In Sacramento County, an agricultural area east of the San Francisco Bay Area, where the state capital is located, breached levees and flooded roads and highways are flooding. Evacuation orders were issued over the weekend.
Emergency rescue teams helped stranded drivers and found at least one person killed in a submerged vehicle on Sunday.
“Too many road closures to count at this point,” the Sacramento weather bureau said in a tweet over the weekend.
Power outages also affected more than 150,000 people in the area, a number cut to about 6,300 on Monday.
Dozens of drivers were also rescued on New Year’s Eve on Interstate 80 near Lake Tahoe, east of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Officials warned residents that high winds could topple trees and cause power outages. Across the California border on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, American movie star Jeremy Renner was among those injured in weather-related accidents.
In the Bay Area, fallen trees closed roads and the city of San Francisco received 140 mm (5.5 in) of rain Saturday night, making it its second wettest day on record.
As the state struggles to cope with a devastating drought which has made the last three years the driest on record, the torrential rain is a welcome change. However, much more precipitation would be needed to make a significant difference.