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One-two punch of wintry storms to soak California through early next week

By
Brandon Buckingham, Accuweather.com

A pair of storm systems will slam into the West Coast in the coming days, bringing the return of wet weather to California.

While the month of February featured nearly bone-dry conditions across the Golden State, a series of late-season events are helping to minimize concerns for the dry season ahead.

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Courtesy of a southern shift in the storm track beginning in March, wetter-than-normal conditions across California have brought the average snow/water equivalent statewide to more than 50 percent above the average for April 2.

Historically, conditions across California are at their wettest during the winter months when the polar jet stream sinks southward.

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During the first three months of the year San Francisco averages 11.35 inches of rainfall, but this year they had significantly less.

Due to a lack of jet stream intrusions, only 2.50 inches, or a mere 22 percent of the average rainfall was observed.

Despite this, many reservoirs remain near their historical averages courtesy of a barrage of winter storms last year.

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While a series of storm systems set to impact the West Coast through early next week will not erase the winter's drought conditions, it will ease concerns for the dry months ahead.

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The first storm system will target Northern California and portions of Oregon as it quickly races inland during the day on Saturday. While a bit of rain may extend southward into the Bay area, the steadiest rain will fall farther north.

As the storm system comes ashore, a few gusty thunderstorms may pop up across the northern San Joaquin Valley, some of which may contain hail.

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The high terrain of Northern California will also begin to feel the effects of the first storm system on Saturday.

Mount Shasta, Lake Tahoe and all of the high terrain in between could face hazardous winter conditions, especially into the afternoon and evening hours.

Travel delays and restrictions will be possible across Northern California passes and secondary roads.

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This storm will be quick moving and is expected to move eastward into the Great Basin and High Plains by Sunday. However, there will be limited, if any, dry time as a second more powerful storm system slams into the West Coast on Sunday.

Unlike the first round of wet weather, the second storm system is predicted to bring wet weather farther south, statewide, as it tracks inland.

Rain and mountain snow will continue to target Northern California during the day on Sunday, piling up on top of what fell during the day on Saturday.

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Many valley cities could receive more than half of their monthly average rainfall from this event this weekend, including Redding, Ukiah, Sacramento and Fresno, Calif.

Thunderstorms will once again be possible across the San Joaquin Valley during the day on Sunday. While they may be brief and highly localized, hail and gusty winds will accompany the strongest of the storms.

Across the northern and central Sierras, snow will likely be measured by the foot as moisture rides up the mountains.

As Sunday progresses, wet weather will continue to expand southward into Southern California. While a majority of the morning could feature dry conditions in the Los Angeles Basin, wet weather is forecast to move in before sunset.

The steadiest and heaviest rain to target Southern California will push ashore from Sunday night into Monday morning.

Many of the coastal valleys could receive between 1 inch to 2 inches of rainfall. As moisture rides up the foothills of Southern California, an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 5 inches is possible.

The conditions may make travel hazardous for the few essential workers that need to venture out.

Urban flooding, minor debris flows and mudslides will be possible across the coastal and upsloping terrain of Southern California on Monday as rain continues to fall.

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Enough cold air is expected to reside within the core of the storm system to drop snow levels below 5,000 feet by Monday.

This may allow some wet snowflakes to fall over Interstate 5 near the Grapevine.

While the heaviest rain will target Southern California from Sunday night into the day on Monday, unsettled weather is likely to continue through the middle of next week as the storm system stalls out.

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