Yet another atmospheric river has hit the Sacramento region — the 11th to hit Northern California this winter — bringing with it renewed concerns for flooding as rain and wind picked up on Tuesday.
Flood watches, warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service cover the majority of California after days of heavy rain and snowfall. Power outages, felled trees and some minor damage have also been reported as strong wind remains in the forecast through Tuesday night.
Intense stormy weather is expected to clear up by Wednesday afternoon, though. Here’s what forecasters say is on the horizon over the next several days.
Rain and some flooding still expected in the valley
Rain fell heavily Monday night and Tuesday morning, and is expected to continue falling in the Sacramento region through Wednesday morning.
“A lot of the heaviest rain pushed through the area this morning,” said Eric Kurth, a meteorologist with the Sacramento branch of the weather service. “We're seeing that [rain move] over in the valley and head into the mountains. We will still get some heavier showers and, of course, snow at the high elevations.”
Kurth added that heavy rain has largely wrapped up in the area, though the Sacramento area could see scattered showers into Tuesday night. Thunderstorms are also expected for a large portion of Northern California through 11 p.m. Tuesday.
An atmospheric river rains on Sacramento, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Though we’ve made it through the rainiest portion of this atmospheric river system, the threat of flooding still remains: “Water will continue to work its way downstream with several of our mainstem rivers continuing to rise into Wednesday,” officials with the weather service said Tuesday.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys are under a flood watch through 10 a.m. Wednesday, with officials warning of “excessive rain” that could cause “flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations.”
Several rivers in the Sacramento area are approaching or have hit flood stage. County officials have identified some areas that are at risk of flooding, including the Cosumnes River near Michigan Bar, the Sacramento River near Ord Ferry and Tehama Bridge, and the Tuolumne River near Modesto.
“[It] still doesn’t look like we’re going to see mainstem major river flooding,” said UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain during a briefing on Monday. “There could be a few forecast points that make it above monitor stage into marginal flood stage but on these major rivers with levee systems and flood control systems, that won’t actually really do any major harm or inundation.”
High winds force outages, park closures
Winds picked up Tuesday afternoon, with gusts over 50 mph reported in some Sacramento areas. The Sacramento valley remains under a high wind advisory until 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We've seen some gusts that have been getting up over 50 miles an hour, even a few spots up to 60 miles an hour or so,” Kurth with the weather service said. “That's a big concern in terms of causing power outages and trees and branches down, people should just be aware that hazard is going to continue through the afternoon into the early evening for Sacramento.”
Over 4,000 SMUD customers were without power as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the utility’s outage tracker, with the largest impacts reported near the Sacramento Executive Airport and in the Wilton and Herald areas. And blackouts weren’t confined to the Sacramento region: Outages hit more than 173,000 utility customers across northern and central areas, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages nationwide.
County officials announced Tuesday that all Sacramento Regional Parks, which have been closed since March 9, will continue to remain closed on Tuesday due to “strong, persistent winds.”
Parks were closed last week “due to anticipated wind gusts of up to 50 mph,” county officials said. “With soil still saturated from prior storms, these high gusts have the potential to bring down a large number of trees.”
Wintry weather expected to ease by Thursday
The Sacramento region is expected to see a return of sunny skies by Thursday.
“We're going to experience quite a change, in terms of getting some drier weather on Wednesday and Thursday,” Kurth said. “There still will be some showers in the morning hours [Wednesday] that will continue through the mountains and foothills … and then we'll even see that die off pretty much by the afternoon.”
Thursday’s forecast is completely dry, he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow us for more stories like this
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.