California braces for series of El Niño storms

Author: the associated press
Published: Updated:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – After all the talk, El Niño storms have finally lined up over the Pacific and started soaking drought-parched California with rain expected to last for most of the next two weeks, forecasters said Monday.

As much as 15 inches of rain could fall in the next 16 days in Northern California, with about 2 feet of fresh snow expected in the highest points of the Sierra Nevada, said Johnny Powell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

To the south, persistent wet conditions could put some Los Angeles County communities at risk of flash-flooding along with mud and debris flows, especially in wildfire burn areas.

Residents near those areas were urged to monitor weather reports and consider stockpiling sand bags.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned residents to prepare by clearing gutters and anything in their yard that might clog storm drains; putting together an emergency kit; and stockpiling sandbags if their home is susceptible to flooding.

An effort also was under way to provide shelter for homeless people.

“We want as little damage and destruction and as little death as possible,” Garcetti said.

Between 2 and 3.5 inches of rain is predicted to fall across the coastal and valley areas of Southern California through Friday, with up to 5 inches falling in the mountains.

Forecasters will be closely watching to see if this year’s intense El Niño matches that of 1997 and 1998, where heavy rain saturated California in January, February and March

The first wave of rain started in Northern California with light showers Sunday and was expected to pick up strength and cover a large area of the region, the weather service said.

“This does have El Niño DNA associated with it,” Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the weather service told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Were getting some tropical moisture with the systems coming across the mid-Pacific.”

Forecasters say a second, stronger storm is expected to arrive in Northern California later Monday. At least two more storms are expected to follow on Wednesday and Thursday, possibly bringing as much as 3 inches of rain.

“Friday looks like a dry, clear day but more rain is expected Saturday,” Powell said.

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