Darkening skies and gusty winds this early Tuesday on California’s north coast, literally foreshadowing a decent-sized rainstorm headed our way — via the NWS:
Steady rainfall will move onto the coast by late morning and spread inland during the afternoon, with some showers continuing into the evening.
Rainfall totals of up to an inch will be possible, with the greatest totals across the north, and lesser totals across the south.
There is an outside chance at a rumble of thunder as well, mainly near the coast during the afternoon hours.
A bit on the blustery side, too, winds already gusting to nearly 25 mph, with possible robust tweaks during the day at 35 mph or better. High winds are freaky — reminds of tornadoes, swirling amidst that ‘rumble of thunder.’
(Illustration: ‘Rain,’ by Brad Sharp, found here).
This morning’s cold front/rainstorm is just the start to maybe a thick stream of wet weather the next two weeks, especially coming this weekend. We’re set to receive a flood.
From yesterday’s Washington Post:
In the near-term, Northern California has a few damp days ahead this week, but the Pacific moisture tap is expected to really turn on starting this weekend.
The “pineapple express” will be in full swing — an atmospheric river of moisture that extends from the central Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, all the way to the West Coast.
California’s heaviest rains tend to come from atmospheric river events.
A series of strong storms with heavy rain and gusty winds is forecast to start Saturday and follow in quick succession.
“Given the model consistency and agreement,” wrote the National Weather Service in the San Francisco Bay Area, “confidence is quite high that our area will see periods of significant rainfall along with locally strong winds form this upcoming weekend well into next week.”
Through next Monday, forecast models are projecting widespread rainfall totals of more than two inches across Northern California and 20 to 30 more inches of snow in the Sierras.
Although this winter’s El Niño-influenced rainy season really helped Washington state’s drought, and Oregon benefited by having their drought get out of the extreme category — storms pushed northward away from California’s coast — we haven’t really seen at all a strong, continuous season-long system:
But it still leaves a large portion of the West, and nearly all of California itself in the same drought it has had for the past four years, and time is running out in this rainy season.
Grand promises of “one storm after another like a conveyor belt” have not been kept so far this winter, despite the ongoing, near-record El Niño.
March tends to be the last month that El Niño has a chance to play a significant role in California storm tracks, and we may be seeing this pattern play out in the forecasts in the next few weeks.
But its best shot at significant, drought-busting rain might be over until next winter, especially for the southern half of the state.
And so it goes — NWS meteorologist Robbie Munroe, forecasting the new month — apparently coming like a lion:
“Typically, from past six strong El Ninos, we have generally seen above normal rainfall. But since 0ctober 1 we’ve only seen five inches of rain so far (across Southern California),” he said.
“We were certainly expecting a lot more.”
But if February was a disappointment, forecasters said a string of storms were on track to hit the state in early-to-mid March, bringing significant rainfall that could make an impact on the drought, he said.
Rain falling now, big pellets…