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Heavy Storms is Approaching California

After nearly a year without rain, a series of powerful Pacific Storms are headed for Northern California this week, with up to a foot of rain and three feet of snow possible in the Sierra Nevada. The Storms, which are being fueled by a typical atmospheric river pattern, could cause flash floods and hazardous debris flows across a large section of the region that has already been ravaged by recent wildfires.

The moisture potential grows with each Storms, perhaps culminating on Sunday with a rare category 5 atmospheric river event. A jet of water known as an atmospheric river is expected to hit California on Sunday, according to a prediction computer model.

Marty Ralph, director of UC San Diego’s Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes said that the atmospheric river with a category 4 or 5 ratings may produce significant rainfall totals over three or more days, potentially exceeding 10-15%  of a typical year’s precipitation in certain areas. Atmospheric rivers are a small band of concentrated moisture in the sky that travels more than two miles above the ocean and can convey more than 20 times the amount of water that the Mississippi River can.

The Cal Fire-led Watershed Emergency Response Team has been gearing up ahead of the heavy rains, assessing and identifying the areas most susceptible to post-fire hazards, such as debris flows, flooding and rockfall. The areas of concern are where values-at-risk are below steep areas burned at moderate to high soil burn severity. For the Dixie Fire, is primarily along the Highway 70 corridor and portions of Indian Valley and Genesee Valley. For the Caldor Fire, this would be along portions of the Highway 50 corridor, and the low-lying areas of the Cosumnes River.

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