Updated Sunday, 10:47 a.m.
After a powerful Thanksgiving storm left California drenched with rain or blanketed in snow, more inclement weather is on the horizon through the weekend.
Forecasters say an atmospheric river taking aim at Northern California will bring rain and wind by Saturday and continue through Sunday, impacting returning holiday travelers.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning starting Saturday morning for the Coastal Ranges and Shasta County, and Saturday afternoon for the Sierra Nevada. They're advising residents to avoid mountain travel late Saturday through Sunday.
A flash flood watch was issued in advance for Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire scorched more than 121 square miles in October.
A high-resolution model forecast of what you can expect across the region today. If you have travel plans, expect intermittent periods of rain over the Valley with moderate/heavy snow across the Sierra. Snow levels are running around 6500-7000 feet, lower north of I-80. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/qrSfuQHK3H— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) December 1, 2019
Elsewhere in the U.S. Saturday, the powerful and dangerous storm that hit California over the holiday moved eastward, bedeviling travelers.
A 5-year-old boy died and two other children were missing in central Arizona after a vehicle was swept away while attempting to cross a runoff-swollen creek. A storm-related death also was reported in South Dakota.
The wet weather was a remarkable turnabout in a week that began with thousands of people being chased from their homes by a wildfire in parched coastal mountains above Santa Barbara and worrisome data about California’s moisture levels.
The U.S. Drought Monitor said in its weekly report Wednesday that almost all of California was in a condition called “abnormally dry” and a small percentage was in early stages of drought.
According to the state Department of Water Resources, 75% of California’s annual average precipitation occurs from November through March and a small difference in the number of storms can determine a wet or dry year.
The Thanksgiving storm spread rain and snow to most parts of the state, including the Sierra Nevada, where the snowpack stores about 30% of California’s water supply.
In the Eastern Sierra southeast of Yosemite National Park, the Mammoth Mountain ski resort reported the storm had dumped 4 feet of snow by Friday morning, with more continuing to fall.
The same amount piled up over two days at resort levels of Big Bear Lake, east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The storm also turned Thanksgiving travel into a nightmare in some places, including on major routes through the mountain passes of Southern California.
Heavy snow produced massive gridlock Thursday night on Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles and forced repeated closures of Interstate 15 in Tejon Pass between LA and the San Joaquin Valley.
Fire-scarred Southern California will see its next storm arrive on Wednesday.