Devastating storm brings life-threatening floods, strong winds and snow in the west – AccuWeather.com/ar/
A severe and impactful storm has begun moving ashore in California, marking the start of rounds of heavy rain and mountain snow that are expected to continue until at least mid-week. A deep low pressure area will advance north along the Central California coast Sunday into Sunday evening, spreading a wave of moisture from the coast into the interior of the west.
This storm will be multi-faceted in terms of threats and impacts, and will not only include heavy rain and gusty winds, but also snowfall on the mountains that will be measured in feet. The wide range of this storm means potential impacts on at least five western states, with California expected to bear the brunt of the wind, rain and snow.
Forecasters warn that any residents within the impact area of this powerful storm should be alert for changing conditions and prepare based on their location for impacts ranging from flash flooding, landslides, travel disruptions, damaging winds, power outages and mountain snow. This storm will affect several population centers in the West, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas.
“Public awareness and storm preparedness are strongly encouraged as life-threatening conditions may develop in some communities,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski noted.
“Nearly 94% of California’s population, up to 37 million people, are at risk of life-threatening flooding,” said Dan DeBaudouin, senior director of forecast operations at AccuWeather. “Because of the many mountains and ridges, even a few inches of rain can cause flooding.” Significant: The greatest risk of widespread catastrophic flooding is expected across canyons and ridges in Southern California, especially in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.
A storm accompanied by heavy rain, gusty winds, and heavy snow
As the storm continues to reach the Golden State, rounds of heavy rain will extend from Northern California to Southern California. On Saturday night, snow began falling in the Klamath Mountains and Sierra Nevada. Reports of heavy snow had already begun falling in the mountains from Northern California by Sunday morning, with more than a foot in 24 hours already observed in the high terrain northwest of Lake Tahoe.
The first-ever hurricane-force wind warning for California was issued early Sunday morning, covering a corridor south of the San Francisco Bay Area. Hurricane force winds are classified as winds exceeding 74 mph. Through Monday, forecasters warn that extremely strong southeast winds across parts of northern and central California could reach 50 to 70 mph with gusts that could approach AccuWeather Local StormMax™ 100 mph.
The winds are expected to intensify throughout the day on Sunday; However, wind speeds in locations around San Francisco Bay reached over 50 mph by early Sunday morning. On Sunday, power outages began to rise around the Bay Area, with nearly 24,000 customers experiencing power outages, according to PowerOutage.US.
Forecasters warn that rounds of rain associated with this storm could be devastating to some locations and cause long-term problems with travel disruptions, river levels and power outages. Compounded by the heavy rains a storm brought to the area last Wednesday and Thursday, flooding conditions could quickly worsen with soil already saturated and streams and rivers surging.
Heavy rain is expected to continue in most locations in California through Tuesday. The majority of the state will have a chance to collect at least 1-2 inches of rain from Saturday night into Tuesday, but much of the southwest to north-central areas could see between 2-4 inches of rain. Locations around the Los Angeles Basin, the central California coast, and slope areas west of the Sierra Nevada range could pick up 4 to 8 inches of rain.
“The San Bernardino Mountains outside of Los Angeles are expected to be a hotspot in terms of total precipitation,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Doty explained.
Rainfall totals from Saturday night into Tuesday could rise to 8-12 inches across this mountainous area of Southern California with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 24 inches, Doughty added.
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Heavy rainfall over the coming days across parts of California could quickly lead to life-threatening flooding in urban areas and rapidly rising rivers and streams.
Road closures are possible in locations along the coast, along the western edges of the mountain ranges and across the Sacramento Valley. Mudslides and debris flows will be a concern with varying terrain across the state and a deluge of heavy rain.
Evacuation orders and warnings are in place
Evacuation orders and warnings were issued Saturday due to heavy rainfall in several locations in Ventura County, California, according to Ventura County Emergency Services’ incident dashboard. A list of nearby emergency evacuation shelters is provided by the Sheriff’s Office for residents living in the affected areas.
As moisture continues to expand across the high terrain of the Sierra Nevada and mountains surrounding the Los Angeles Basin through Monday night, forecasters say 3 to 6 feet of snow could fall in places above 7,000 feet.
“For most passes around Southern California, snow will not be a threat. Snow levels will be around 6,000 feet for most of the duration of this event and move to about 7,000 feet later Sunday night and Sunday. Heavy snow on resorts.
Taylor added that we will have to monitor conditions towards the end of this event, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Snow levels are expected to drop to about 5,000 feet, and some passes, such as Tejon and Cajon Pass, may see some snow mixed with rain Tuesday night. Right now, it looks like most of the moisture will be out of the area by then, so there shouldn’t be major impacts on success.
Blizzard conditions possible
In the mountains, blizzard conditions can develop with heavy snowfall and gusty winds in excess of 50 mph. Avalanche watches were set Saturday across the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Experts warn that the avalanche danger could rise to a severe danger at all elevations by Sunday night.
“Farther north, snow levels are generally high through Tuesday, above 6,000 feet and even rising to 7,000 feet at times. For places above 7,000 feet, like Donner Pass, 2-4 feet of snow is expected over Lowest through Tuesday.Places with lower elevations, such as Truckee, Calif., at 5,804 feet, could see a foot or two.Heavy rain is expected along the west-facing Sierra foothills, and could lead to flash flooding, Taylor said.
The set of events that will be affected
Events over the weekend in Los Angeles that have already faced or will face impacts from heavy rainfall include the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Clash and the 2024 Grammy Awards. The NASCAR Cup Series Clash has been moved from Sunday, February 4, to Saturday, February 3, due to… Expected arrival times for wet conditions.
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Meanwhile, the 2024 Grammy Awards are scheduled to take place on Sunday night at 8pm ET (5pm local time). With heavy rain expected by Sunday evening and a flood and wind warning issued, those traveling and attending the awards ceremony may face chaotic and difficult weather conditions. Organizers report that the red carpet will be under cover this year and umbrellas will be available.
Over the coming days, rain and rain will begin to spread to places like Las Vegas, where the 58th Super Bowl will be hosted on Sunday, February 11. Attendees are expected to flock to the city throughout the week, but those who arrive early could face one of the wettest days in months.
Cities like Las Vegas typically receive 0.83 inches of rain during February. From Sunday to Tuesday, the city could see between 1-2 inches of rain, over the course of a month. The rain that will fall in the coming days may exceed what fell during the past four months combined. From October 1 to January 31, Las Vegas saw only 0.53 inches of rain.
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