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California Prepares for Snow, Rain, Mudslides

California mudslide license plate (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty
Newport Beach, CA

Warnings have been posted for the risk of mudslides in areas that burned in last year’s wildfires, as bone-dry California looks forward to its best week of rain and snow this winter.

AccuWeather is forecasting a week of frigid conditions and heavy precipitation as an Arctic weather system carves southwestern paths through Central and Southern California.

The Central and Southern Sierra Mountains are expecting to see snow accumulations of 3 to 9 inches for lower elevations, and 8 to 14 inches in the higher elevations. The snow level for the San Bernardino Mountains will drop on Monday night to around 4,000 feet, and then fall to as low as 2,500 feet by Tuesday morning.

National Weather Service storm warnings include an exacerbated risk of mudslides due to 11 months of dry conditions for the sections of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties that burned extensively during last year’s Thomas, Creek, and La Tuna fires.

Climatologist Bill Patzert at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge told AccuWeather, “There are four seasons in California – drought, followed by fire, followed by floods, followed by mudslides.” Patzert added that the worst mudslide debris flows tend to happen during an “atmospheric river event” that is characterized by 6-10 inches of rain falling in a 48-hour to 72-hour period.

Arctic fronts are forecast to bring Southern California overnight temperatures that will dip down to about 34 degrees. Daytime high temperatures should be in the low 60-degree range. But with 5 to 15 mile-per-hour winds, and gusts to around 35 miles-per-hour in the lowlands, the temperatures will feel at least 5 to 10 degrees colder to most Californians.

The first storm will bring its heaviest rain concentrations on Monday night through Tuesday afternoon. Weather should clear on Wednesday, but then be followed by another Arctic storm lasting from Thursday through Saturday evening.

Breitbart News recently reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) U.S. Drought Monitor estimated that half of California is back in drought due to a cyclical La Niña weather pattern, while much of the Midwest and Plains states are suffering widespread flood conditions.

NOAA’s Climate Outcome Likelihood website, which provides a statistical analysis of the probability for normal rain years, estimated that the probability of California precipitation levels returning to normal by the end of the 2017-2018 rain year that ends in October is only 9 percent.

But this week’s storm systems could double the 2017-2018 rainfall totals for some of the state’s driest sections, including Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties. NOAA is currently in the process of updating its Climate Outcome Likelihood predictions.

 

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