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Storms pose double-edged sword to California: Flooding, mudslides vs. drought relief

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Additional rounds of rain and mountain snow will cause more travel problems, but will also bring more drought relief to California into much of next week.

The large storm that rolled ashore this past week will weaken.

"Areas of rain, ice and snow will retreat northward and diminish in coverage area over the northwestern United States this weekend," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg.

However, at least three more rounds of moisture will be flung at California from the Pacific Ocean next week.

More storms, travel problems in store next week

Each storm has the potential to renew the risk of flash flooding and mudslides, especially in urban and recent burn areas.

One potent storm system is scheduled to roll ashore from the Pacific Ocean at the tail end of the weekend and continue into early next week.

Static Cali Ore Sun Night Monday storm


Rain will first push into western Oregon and northernmost California later Sunday. Next the rain will expand southward through central California and parts of Southern California during Sunday night and on Monday.

"Heavy rain will fall from the central and northern coast of California to the Central Valley," Hoegg said. "Drenching rain will also reach the Los Angeles Basin."

Enough rain accompanied by a low cloud ceiling and fog to cause airline delays to expand southward across the state during late Sunday to Monday.

Motorists should anticipate a wet and slow commute over much of the state on Monday.

Heavy snow will again fall over much of the Sierra Nevada with each storm.

While snow levels will vary with each storm, "a few more feet of snow will fall over the central and northern Sierra Nevada at elevations generally above 6,000 feet," Hoegg said.

Motorists who plan on venturing over Donner Pass should be prepared for wintry conditions and possible road closures from time to time through next week.

Snow levels will remain above the passes in Southern California with the storm on Monday.

"Another storm is slated to roll in from the Pacific on Tuesday, followed by a third storm toward the end of the week," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Static storms return to West


"Rain and mountain snow from the latter two storms will focus on central and northern California, rather than areas farther to the south," Anderson said.

Ongoing storms to further boost drought relief

In addition to the potential for renewed flooding and mudslides, rain and snow from the storm will likely shave another layer of drought intensity off of Southern California by late next week.

Storms to date have wiped out the drought in northern California and have significantly reduced the drought farther south, according to the United States Drought Monitor. Only a small part of Southern California remains in extreme drought as of Thursday, Jan. 21, 2017.

This season to date, rainfall has already had a great positive impact on many reservoirs in California, according to KQED.

The rain has filled some reservoirs to the point where water is now being released downstream.

Static AP Briones Reservoir Jan. 11, 2017

In this Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, photo, Briones Reservoir is seen near capacity in Orinda, Calif. Inches of additional rain has fallen on the state since the middle of January with more on the way into early February. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


Even if the snow and rain were to suddenly shut off for the rest of the season, there is enough snow over the high country to continue to ease the drought moving forward this year.

As of Jan. 21, the Sierra Nevada has received the biggest seasonal snowfall since the mid-1990s with more on the way.

As the snow gradually melts this spring and summer, it will be released into area lakes, reservoirs and aqueducts.

Static Cali Rain Benefits


While some of the storms thus far have been so heavy to close roads and raise the risk of avalanches, the snowfall so far this season has helped to boost skiing interest in the region.

While the storm track will again shift northward toward the middle of February, a few more storms may come calling later in the month.