Rare Atmospheric River Heading for NorCal Could Bring a Foot of Rain at its Epicenter

Following a historic drought that dropped water levels dangerously low and added to Northern California’s historic wildfires of 2021, the first major storm of the season is about to arrive in the area and it could be much larger than originally forecast. According to one expert, it could bring a foot of rain in its epicenter.

The storm is forecast to hit the coast on Sunday, with large amounts of rain falling throughout NorCal until the end of day Monday. This type of storm is called an atmospheric river, which builds into a narrow funnel of water over the sky and dumping water on anyone below. In other words, a lot of rain is expected to fall from this storm.

The West Coast receives plenty of atmospheric rivers, but according to Marty Ralph from the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this could be a rare event. Speaking to the SFGate, Ralph indicated that the storm had a 30 percent chance of reaching AR5, which is the most intense type of atmospheric river and can bring exceptional amounts of water. AR5 storms are rare and average hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. In the past 40 years, only one has hit California in October.

Conversely, the storm could also rank as an AR3 or AR4, which are both also intense but not as wet as an AR5. Either way, we should see a lot of rain on Sunday and Monday.

This rainfall could be really problematic in the burn scars of the North Complex and Dixie fires, which have already been alerted of a Flash Flood Watch this week. Residents in those areas should be ready to evacuate in case of a mudslide.

On a positive note, this storm could make an immense impact on the current drought. Only a few of these atmospheric rivers could put a real dent in water storage in California.

“This weeklong period ahead is looking like it could produce anywhere from 10% to 15% of the average annual precipitation for much of Northern California,” said Ralph to the SFGate. “In some locations that percentage could be even higher.”

From rags to riches, Northern California may see an exceptional amount of rain this weekend.It seems like the rain dancing worked.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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