A powerful winter storm system will strengthen over the Pacific, bringing damaging winds, rain and heavy mountain snow to already drenched California starting Monday evening.
“Previous storms have saturated ground, which will lead to downed trees and the potential for more power outages,” San Francisco National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Grass told CNN.
In an average winter, this type of atmospheric river storm would bring beneficial precipitation to the region. But given the unprecedented amount of rain and snow California has already received this winter, the storm will only exacerbate flooding problems, bring down weakened trees and add more snow to already record levels.
Much of Northern California is expected to receive 1 to 2 inches of rain, including the Bay Area, with isolated areas of higher precipitation.
While the totals don’t seem like high numbers, many places are already experiencing their 10 wettest walks on record.
“We still have road closures in mountainous areas due to the large number of landslides and landslides since we’ve been affected by so many storm systems,” Grass said.
More than eight million people along California’s central coast are at slight risk of Level 2 of 4 excess rainfall on Tuesday, renewing the threat of flash flooding.
The heaviest rainfall is expected to spread across the state on Tuesday with steady rains in valleys and coastal communities.
Cities like Oakland, Monterey and Big Sur are on track to achieve their three wettest walks on record by the end of this week.
The impacts of this storm are further complicated by high winds.
“Saturated soils and winds make it even easier for downed trees and power outages to occur,” the San Francisco Weather Service said.
More than 15 million people are under wind advisories in California and Oregon with gusts expected between 45 and 55 mph on Tuesday.
Due to strong winds, near whiteout conditions are possible in parts of Northern California near Mount Shasta where 1 to 3 feet of snow could fall. Winter storm warnings are already in effect for this region and other parts of California through Wednesday.
The Sacramento Weather Service office is calling for “major mountain travel impacts” in parts of northern and central California. Up to 4 feet of snow and wind gusts of up to 60 mph are possible over the Sierra Nevada, making travel conditions difficult.
Statewide, the California snowpack for the Sierras is currently at 228% of its normal amount for this time of year and this storm will only increase that margin. The Southern Sierras have specifically reached record highs, while the Central Sierra will likely be by the end of the winter season.