A potentially historic storm has landed in Northern California – one that could singlehandedly end fire season and bring significant relief to the drought.
The rain and wind entered the NorCal coast with a rare veracity Sunday morning, measuring as a AR5 – the largest category of atmospheric river. An atmospheric river builds into a narrow funnel of water over the sky and dumping water on anyone below. In other words, a lot of rain is expected to fall from this storm. Up to a foot of rain is expected, with the mountains receiving multiple feet of snow as well.
The West Coast receives plenty of atmospheric rivers, but according to Marty Ralph from the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this could be a rare event. Speaking to the SFGate, Ralph indicated that the storm had a chance to bring exceptional amounts of water to the area. AR5 storms are rare and average hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. In the past 40 years, only one has hit California in October.
The storm was seen entering the San Francisco Bay with a high intensity on Sunday:
There’s also significant snow falling on the high mountain areas of NorCal, with the possibility of up to 70 inches of snow falling above 8,000 feet:
The east side of Tahoe could see up to 60 inches, while the western Crest are (Kirkwood, Boreal, Sugar Bowl) could receive up to 71 inches over 9,000 feet. Here’s the full snow forecast through Tuesday from Tahoe Weather:
This rainfall could be really problematic in the burn scars of the North Complex and Dixie fires, which have already been alerted of a Flash Flood Watch this week. Residents in those areas should be ready to evacuate in case of a mudslide. On a positive note, this storm could make an immense impact on the current drought. Only a few of these atmospheric rivers could put a real dent in water storage in California.
From rags to riches, Northern California may see an exceptional amount of rain this weekend. It seems like the rain dancing worked.