Heavy rain to cause dangerous flooding

News


A powerful storm system will drench Central California with heavy rain overnight.

Fresno and the Valley could get more than an inch of precipitation.

Here’s the latest precipitation forecast for this system:

Precipitation will fall as mainly rain in fairly high elevations because of the warm nature of this system. This is another reason there’s a high risk of dangerous flash flooding.

Mountain areas are of particular concern. For one thing, this atmospheric river setup is so warm it will fall as rain rather than snow except in really high elevations.  Snow sticks and slows the draining process.  Rain rushes downhill immediately and is much more likely to lead to flash flooding as it overwhelms the drainage capacity of creeks and streams. Plus, we have burn scars in our mountains.  Fire burned the ground cover necessary to prevent erosion and there’s a lot of loose material like ash and debris.  This could turn into debris and mud slides which can cover roadways for days, not to mention threaten life and property.

A number of severe weather alerts are in effect.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 11:00 PM Monday. Expect snow totals of 2 to 4 feet above 8,000 feet in elevation. Winds may gust as strong as 60 mph. The majority of this snow will fall late Sunday into Monday morning. Travel will be extremely difficult or impossible. Campers and hikers should be prepared for winter-like conditions. The weight of snow can break tree limbs/branches, so use caution when setting up camp location. If you plan to travel, consider alternate strategies. Be sure to carry chains/cables in vehicle.

Flood and Flash Flood watches are in effect through much of Monday because of the threat of torrential rain. A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Intense rainfall rates are likely in the Sierra Nevada and adjacent foothills below 8,000 feet, leading to a high threat of mudslides, rockslides, and debris flow flooding, particularly in recently burned areas. Some roads may become impassible or washed out, resulting in road closures. The heaviest rain will fall late Sunday and Monday morning.

Wind advisories are also in effect throughout California. Especially windy conditions are expected west of I-5 Sunday night and early Monday. This wind advisory continues until 11:00 AM Monday morning.

Expect southwest winds of 15-25 mph with gusts near 45 mph. Watch for falling tree limbs and other damage. Travel will be difficult, particularly for high profile vehicles, such as campers and tractor trailers. Blowing dust may reduce visibilities suddenly. Highways affected include, but are not limited to Highway 33, Highway 41, Highway 46, Highway 152 through Pacheco Pass, and Highway 198 west of Interstate 5.

Here’s the latest on the timing of the heavy rain:

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