Heavy Rain and Snow Hit California

Storms that have brought mudslides and dangerous driving conditions across the state could last into Wednesday.,


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A sprawling weather system brought torrential rain and heavy snow across California on Tuesday, a day after wreaking havoc on the northern part of the state, meteorologists said.

The National Weather Service said there was a slight risk of excessive rainfall over parts of Southern California through Wednesday morning, leading to the possibility of flash floods.

Downtown Los Angeles received a little more than two inches of rain since Monday night, according to Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Flash flooding in the area, he said, has been “pretty minimal.”

But the area may experience travel and shipping delays, Mr. Kittell said, because the section of Interstate 5 known as The Grapevine, just started getting snow. “We’re expecting a few inches,” he said.

In addition, heavy snow, which could reduce visibility and create hazardous driving conditions, was expected over the Pacific Northwest before ending Tuesday night, the Weather Service said.

“Sure, you’ve heard of ‘Elf on the Shelf,’ but how about ‘Fountain on the Mountain’?” Weather Service forecasters wrote on Twitter on Monday, adding that more than five feet of snow was forecast for parts of the Sierra Nevada through Wednesday, rendering travel conditions in the mountains dangerous.

By early Tuesday, parts of Northern California were under a variety of weather watches and warnings.

Heavy rains caused two mudslides in the Silverado Canyon area, about 21 miles southeast of Anaheim, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. “Evacuation orders are in effect for Modjeska, Silverado, and Williams Canyons,” the authority wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Several people were rescued from their homes and firefighters are continuing to rescue people in the area, Fire Capt. Greg Barta said. No injuries or fatalities were reported so far, he said.

The mudslides occurred “basically exactly where the Bond Fire occurred last year,” Captain Barta said. That fire, which engulfed thousands of acres in Southern California and forced about 25,000 people to flee their homes, had left the area “prone to mudslides,” he said.

Areas around Sacramento were under a winter storm warning through Tuesday night. The Weather Service said on Tuesday that five feet of snow had fallen since Sunday in Palisades Tahoe, Sierra Snow Lab and Dodge Ridge. “Snow showers will continue to linger today and mountain travel is still discouraged,” Weather Service forecasters wrote on Twitter.

A flood watch was in effect through Tuesday evening for southern portions of the state, including coastal areas in Orange and San Diego Counties, as well as the San Bernardino Mountains.

By Tuesday afternoon, nearly three and a half inches of rain had fallen at Travis Air Force Base, and nearly three inches fell at Sacramento International Airport, the Weather Service reported. “Drive with caution on wet roads!” they advised on Twitter.

The rain and snow were expected to end over Southern California by Wednesday morning.

Conditions across Northern California were equally terrible on Monday. Kirkwood Mountain Resort said on Twitter that it would not open because of 17 inches of snow and high winds.

Anna Wanless, a meteorologist with the Weather Service said the Sacramento Valley experienced 72 hours of rain, paired with some gusty winds, causing some downed trees and loss of power but “nothing too terrible.”

Wednesday morning, a colder storm system is expected to move into the area, Ms. Wanless said. That system is expected to be “shorter lived” and bring less precipitation, she said.

The storm, despite its threat of flooding, may bring much needed rain to the drought-stricken state, where conditions are generally either extreme or exceptional, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. To make matters more dire, last month was the second-warmest November on record for California, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The bulk of California’s annual precipitation typically falls between December and March. A recent outlook from NOAA suggested that the northern and southern halves of the state may experience diverging water fortunes this winter because of La Nina, a weather phenomenon that generally means drier, warmer conditions in the southern half of the United States and wetter weather in the northern half.

Scientists expect that La Nina this winter will lead to below-average precipitation in a large swath of California, stretching from the Bay Area to the state’s southern border. They expect warmer than average temperatures for Southern California and eastern parts of Central California.

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