California storm brings first rain of the season to Los Angeles
- A wetter pattern is forming in California next week.
- This will bring rain and mountain snow to the entire state, including Southern California.
- Rain may be locally heavy in some areas.
- It is the beginning of the rainy season in the state, which continues until spring.
California will get wetter next week with the first widespread rain of the season expected in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area, along with the risk of flooding, strong winds and mountain snow.
When will this happen? This will be a slow-moving event, starting early in the week, and likely not ending until later in the week.
– Northern California: It begins on Monday, increases from Tuesday to Wednesday, and may continue until Thursday or Friday.
– Southern California: It can start on Tuesday for some, but increases from Wednesday to Thursday, and can last until Friday.
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How much rain or mountain snow? While it’s too early to tell rain and snow amounts, it appears the best chance for heavy rain will be near the coast in Northern California, as well as the Sierra foothills and coastal ranges below the snow level.
In Southern California, at least moderate rain is expected in most areas. Some flash flooding, landslides and debris flows are possible, especially in areas recently burned by wildfires.
Rain may fall at higher than normal elevations in the Sierra during the first days of this event (e.g., Monday through Tuesday). But by Wednesday and into Thursday, snow will fall at more normal elevations in the Sierra, especially in the Southern Sierra. Some snow may also fall late in the week in Southern California’s high country. Keep all this in mind if you have travel plans.
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Is this required? California and the Desert Southwest continue to face long-term water supply challenges, due to groundwater depletion in the Central Valley and reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin.
But the latest Drought Monitor analysis released Thursday indicates California is completely drought-free for the first time since February 2020. That’s due to a combination of one of the state’s wettest fall and spring seasons in 2022-2023, followed by the strange trajectory of tropical drought. Storm Hillary and its heavy rains in California and the West in August.
All that rain and melting mountain snow allowed the state’s reservoirs to start this season well above normal in early November.
Although this preparation is not critical at the moment, it will at least suppress current wildfires and reduce the risk of more outbreaks for some time. The Sierra snowpack, which is needed to recharge reservoirs when it melts in the spring and summer, will begin to accumulate as it normally does during the rainy season, which typically runs from late fall through early spring.
Why does this wet pattern occur? The jet stream is expected to descend sharply southward off the west coast. When this happens, the storm’s path also shifts south.
Instead of directing Pacific storms toward the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, as has been the case recently, this will direct Pacific storms toward California and the Southwest as well.
This setup can also take advantage of a modest atmospheric river, a plume of deep moisture that is typically responsible for heavy rainfall in California.
Is this a sign of El Niño? While a strong El Niño is currently occurring and can be one of many influences on large-scale weather patterns, not every storm can be attributed to an El Niño. California’s epic rainy season last year, and other seasons, occurred without an El Niño phenomenon.
Here we have a much deeper look into the potential impacts of California’s rainy season.
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Jonathan Erdmann is a senior meteorologist at Weather.com and has been covering national and international weather since 1996. His lifelong love of meteorology began with a close encounter with a tornado as a child in Wisconsin. He studied physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then completed a master’s degree working with dual polarization radar and lightning data at Colorado State University. Extreme and strange weather are his favorite subjects. Contact him on X (formerly Twitter), Threads And Facebook.
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