A parade of strong storms being fueled by the El Nino influenced weather pattern are slamming into California this week. Coastal California, from San Francisco to San Diego, is under Flash Flood Watches, and a total of eight western states are under winter alerts. Heavy rain along the coast and heavy snow in the mountains is expected to continue over the coming days.
This is a typical El Nino weather pattern that meteorologists have been anticipating, and it will likely be the first of several rounds of “storm series” to hit California this winter season. The current El Nino has now tied the 1997-1998 El Nino for the strongest on record. During the last few months, sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean from October through the December period have been 2.3 degrees Celsius above normal.
California residents can expect a new storm to hit each day this week. A weak storm moved in on Monday, bringing scattered showers through the area, but a stronger system hit Tuesday. On Tuesday, flooding and debris flow were reported in parts of Southern California, shutting down roads.
Yet, another round of rain along the coast and snow in the Sierra Mountains is expected to begin early on Wednesday morning as the next storm comes ashore. Flooding and mudslides are possible once again, especially burn scars in canyons and valleys.
This is only the first major line of storms, so the majority of the problems, including devastating flooding and mudslides, will likely come later this winter. After multiple weeks of these El Nino fueled storms, the ground will become more and more saturated. Although this will help ease the drought with time, it could create a dangerous situation, especially for Southern California.
Below is how much additional rain is forecast through Thursday. The heaviest rain is from Los Angeles to San Diego where locally 3-5” is possible, and the mountains can expect two to four feet of snow to fall.