California Storm Parade Continues Friday With More Rain, Feet of Sierra Snow Through the Weekend

Jonathan Erdman
Published: December 5, 2019

Another Pacific storm will surge into California Friday and last into the weekend wringing out feet of Sierra snow and more rain that could trigger additional flooding and debris flows.

Satellite imagery clearly shows the next system waiting in the wings to soak the Golden State beginning Friday.


Infrared Satellite Image

Wednesday's storm dumped about an inch of rain in downtown L.A. and San Diego, with locally higher amounts over the mountains.

This triggered mainly minor flooding of some streets and freeways, as well as a few rock and mudslides in Southern California primarily from Orange and the Inland Empire to San Diego County.

While rainfall amounts Wednesday were generally a bit lighter in Northern California, thunderstorms dumped heavy rain on ground saturated from last weekend's soaking storm and triggered serious flash flooding in the Salinas Valley.

Five to 10 homes were flooded in Chualar, about 55 miles south-southeast of San Jose, according to Monterey County Emergency Management. Three to four feet of water prompted a shutdown of U.S. 101 between Gonzalez and Chualar, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Flooding also prompted an evacuation of a nursing home in Hollister, Wednesday, KSBW-TV reported.

(MORE: Levee Break Shuts Down California Highway, Strands Students Overnight)

Another Weekend Soaking

Rain and Sierra snow will begin Friday and continue Saturday, and showers will linger in parts of the state into Sunday.

Unlike Wednesday's system, the heaviest rainfall from this storm is expected in Northern California, where several inches of additional rain is expected, particularly north of Interstate 80 in the coastal ranges and Sierra foothills below snow level. This could lead to flash flooding and debris flows, especially in recent burn areas.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the Kincade Fire burn area in Sonoma County.


Rain and Snow Forecast Through Sunday

Several feet of snow is expected in the Sierra, with snow expected above 6,500 feet elevation Friday, and above 5,500 feet elevation this weekend. This could hamper travel over the Sierra passes this weekend.

Once this storm leaves California, a much drier pattern will set up over the state next week, with only a few chances of light rain in far Northern California.


Famine to Feast

This is quite a stunning reversal of fortune after a dry start to the rainy season.

Parts of Northern California saw their driest start to the rainy season in 60 years through much of November.

Beginning the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, downtown San Francisco picked up measurable rain nine straight days through Wednesday. Santa Rosa, California, nearly wiped out its season rainfall deficit in that same nine-day stretch.

San Diego narrowly missed a top-10-wettest November, despite not receiving any measurable rain until Nov. 19.

This is also good news for the state's water supply.

Sierra snowpack is running well above average for this time of year, according to the California-Nevada River Forecast Center. Snowmelt in the spring and summer supplies about 30% of the state's water demand, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

As of Tuesday, most state reservoir levels were running higher than average for early December.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.