It’s been a slow start to the winter in Northern California. Small amounts of precipitation have led to simmering expectations after the historic winter of 2022-23. Now, forecast models are showing an intense storm building over the Pacific Ocean, set to land in California just in time for Christmas.
Although we’re still two weeks out, a storm of epic proportions looks like it’s on the way to the West Coast. This storm will help what’s been a dry start to the winter, but it could cause incredible difficulties including flooding, road closures, and potential damage to infrastructure during the Holidays. Here’s a look at the model forecast for December 24:
It’s important to note that this forecast is still a long way off and a lot can happen in the next two weeks. But the forecast is so intense, it’s already grabbing the attention of some of California’s most prominent meteorologists.
“Fresh off the presses (the 12z GFS ensemble average from 12/8), it depicts a dramatic eastward extension of the jet stream beginning within a week near the coast of Japan and then eventually extending across almost the entire North Pacific basin toward the California coast (over 5,000 miles away!) by about 2 weeks from now,” wrote climate scientist Daniel Swain about the forecast on his blog WeatherWest.com. “To see such an extremely strong and straight jet extension extending zonally (longitudinally) for thousands of miles is very unusual, and is often a portent of a very active weather pattern to come shortly thereafter along the U.S. West Coast.”
This could make for a massive turnaround to an already dry water year. In fact, the start of the year was extremely dry in comparison to October/November seasons in the past 50 years, especially in the mountains near Tahoe:
This is great news for the region hoping to continue the wet patterns to alleviate both water storage and wildfire concerns throughout the state. Keep rain dancing NorCal!