Jan 6, 2017

California’s megastorm: Rain, snow, flooding – and maybe drought relief

Sacramento, CA
USA
by
Ryan Sabalow, Dale Kasler, Phillip Reese, and Bill Lindelof
,
Sacramento Bee

Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley are bracing for potential flooding this weekend, as a massive weather system known as an atmospheric river builds off the coast. Forecasters say that by Monday, rainfall and river flows could reach totals not seen in more than a decade.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Thursday, stretching from Saturday afternoon through Monday, for 24 northern counties, including the six-county Sacramento region. Officials warned of flooding in streams and creeks that normally aren’t much more than a trickle. The Sacramento River is expected to roar with its highest flows since 2006 and send a huge gush of water into the Yolo Bypass, the massive floodplain west of Sacramento engineered to prevent the city from getting swamped.

The area of the state likely to be hardest hit is farther south. If the storm follows its current trajectory, forecasters say it could send an impressive – and possibly dangerous – cascade of water to the drought-ravaged southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Tulare and Tuolumne counties are under a flash-flood warning.

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The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Thursday, stretching from Saturday afternoon through Monday, for 24 northern counties, including the six-county Sacramento region. Officials warned of flooding in streams and creeks that normally aren’t much more than a trickle. The Sacramento River is expected to roar with its highest flows since 2006 and send a huge gush of water into the Yolo Bypass, the massive floodplain west of Sacramento engineered to prevent the city from getting swamped.

The area of the state likely to be hardest hit is farther south. If the storm follows its current trajectory, forecasters say it could send an impressive – and possibly dangerous – cascade of water to the drought-ravaged southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Tulare and Tuolumne counties are under a flash-flood warning.