December 6, 2019

This Weekend Will See Heavy Rain In Northern California, Heavy Snow In The Sierra



A storm approaching California on Friday will produce plenty of heavy rain and snow across the northern half of the state this weekend. While the storm is nowhere near as strong as the record-breaking system we saw before Thanksgiving, which set California's all-time record low air pressure reading, it's bringing plenty of moisture ashore with it.

Unlike the system that came ashore the week of Thanksgiving, this storm will weaken as it approaches the northern California coast on Friday. Even though the approaching low-pressure system is much weaker than our previous storm, forecasters still expect the system to produce quite a bit of rain and snow through the weekend.

The latest forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows up to five inches of rain falling across parts of northern California and southwestern Oregon, with the heaviest rain expected north of Santa Rosa. The Sierra could wind up with several feet of fresh snow by early next week, which is great news for both ski resorts and future water reserves.

It's also going to get windy. Coastal counties in central California could see wind gusts of 50 MPH as the storm comes ashore on Friday and Saturday, which could lead to (nature-induced) power outages and tree damage. Make sure you're prepared for a power outage—of course you are, thanks PG&E!—and stay mindful of large trees and tree limbs over your home/vehicle/smoking spot/what have you.

Flight delays are likely at SFO and other northern California airports over the next couple of days as pilots and air traffic controllers deal with rain, low ceilings, and gusty winds. Any delays or cancellations will cause a ripple effect of delays and cancellations down the line, as any slip in the schedule will affect all of an aircraft's future scheduled legs.

It's also worth noting that flash flood watches are in effect for the burn scar left by the Kincade Fire in northern Sonoma County, including areas downstream from the burned land. It's exceptionally difficult for rainwater to permeate soil burned by wildfires, forcing much of the rain to simply run off as if it had fallen on an asphalt parking lot. Debris flows are also common on and around burn scars in hilly areas as a result of fires destroying the vegetation that held the soil together.


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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