Waterlogged California set to get more rain, wind and snow today, exacerbating flooding concerns

CNN Newsource Pristine Villarreal

(CNN) — A powerful Pacific storm moving inland Tuesday is set to bring more rain, snow and damaging winds to California, a state already waterlogged from at least 12 atmospheric rivers that have delivered a barrage of rain and snow in recent months.

Several inches of rainfall is possible over the central California coast, and as the moisture moves into higher elevations of the state, it will turn to snow, the Weather Prediction Center said. Between 1 and 3 feet of snow is likely in the northern coastal ranges and the Sierra by Wednesday.

More than 8 million people along the central coast are under a slight, Level 2 of 4, risk of excessive rainfall, renewing the threat of flash flooding.

At this time in a normal year, this type of atmospheric river storm would bring beneficial precipitation to the region. But given the unprecedented amount of rain and snow California has already received over a prolonged period, the storm will exacerbate flooding issues, bring down weakened trees and add more snow to already record levels.

Cities including Oakland and Monterey are on track to hit records for rain in March by the end of this week.

“Preceding storms have saturated soils which will result in trees coming down and the potential for more power outages,” National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Gass told CNN.

“We still have road closures in the mountainous areas because of the sheer number of landslides and rockslides since we have been impacted by so many storm systems,” Gass said.

The impacts of this storm are further complicated by strong winds.

More than 10 million people were under a wind advisory in California and Oregon with gusts expected between 45 and 55 mph on Tuesday.

Because of the strong winds, near whiteout conditions are possible in parts of Northern California near Mount Shasta, where 1 to 3 feet of snow could fall. Winter storm warnings are in effect for this region and other parts of California through Wednesday.

Sections of Interstate 5 running from California into Oregon were closed Tuesday due to “severe winter conditions,” according to a tweet from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

I-5 northbound is closed from Redding, California, to the border, ODOT said. Southbound traffic is closed from Ashland, Oregon, to the border.

“This could be a long closure until conditions in CA improve,” the agency said.

Amid the rain and snow, much of California will see highs in the 50s Tuesday, with some areas possibly tying or breaking daily records for the lowest high temperatures.

Statewide, the snowpack in California for the Sierras is currently at 228% of its normal amount for this time of year and this storm will only increase that margin. The Southern Sierras specifically have reached record levels, while the Central Sierra likely will by the end of the winter season.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of NWS meteorologist Roger Gass.

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