California braces for 'once-in-10-year' storm amid fears of flooding, avalanches, blizzards
Sierra travelers trapped by back-to-back storms that dropped more than 2 feet of snow have a brief window to pass before the arrival of a weather system Saturday so wet forecasters are calling it an "atmospheric river."
Up to 12 inches of rain below 8,500 feet is expected, and massive amounts of snow — up to 6 feet — above that elevation. A fourth, colder storm two days behind will drop yet more heavy snow.
“It’s a once-in-10-year event,” said Zach Tolby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. “It’s the strongest storm we’ve seen in a long time, the kind of setup we look for to get significant flooding.”
Tolby said the storm is packing the same wallop as an atmospheric river that hit Northern California a decade ago that caused $300 million in damage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.