Ken Clark

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Details on California Rain Storm(s)

January 19, 2012; 1:31 PM ET

All the big news so far this week has been in the Northwest with epic snow and freezing rain occurring. There is still some snow and freezing rain happening now but with the arrival of the next storm later tomorrow and tomorrow night warmer, air finally takes over for the lowlands. Until then there will continue to be hazardous travel with some additional build-up of ice. The greatest amount will be early tonight.

The current storm in the Northwest has a cold front bringing rain now to northern California. Another storm is hot on its heels over the Pacific.

That second storm is out west of 150W and north of 40N.

Storm number 1 and cold front will move east and south tonight. The cold frontal rain now in northern California will weaken as it moves southeast and eventually fall apart by tomorrow. A period of rain occurs around the Bay Area to Sacramento early tonight then tapers to just a shower in spots late tonight into tomorrow. A little rain may survive south onto parts of the Central Coast to San Joaquin Valley but amounts will be quite light. Snow levels are high, above 7,500 feet this evening and only drops to 6,000 feet near Tahoe and 7,000 feet southern Sierra.

The next storm is going to be a stronger storm with much more upper-level support farther south. A very wet cold front spreads rain south through northern California tomorrow then south through central and then Southern California tomorrow night into Saturday. This is likely to be 1 to 2 inches of from the Bay Area to Sacramento Valley on north with the greatest amounts on west-facing mountains. Central portions of the state will get a good 1/2 to 1 inch with amounts of precipitation diminishing south of Pt. Conception to 1/4 to 1/2 inch in the Los Angeles Basin and around 1/4 inch in San Diego County. The Sierra will have 18 to 32 inches of snow above 7,000 feet with probably 1 to 2 feet down to 6,000 feet. In southern California snow levels start out very high, above 8,000 feet, only dropping to 6,000 feet behind the front when a large percentage of the precipitation will be over with.

An interesting statistic is that Fresno so far this winter has only had a total of 1.57 inches of rain. With these series of storms they may very well get that before the end of Monday, or at least close. Of course this still does not get them back to normal but it will be at least much closer than the current 32 percent of normal they have now. The last time it rained in Fresno was Nov. 20, 2011.

And speaking of Monday. A third, and last, storm brings more rain into northern California Sunday and spreads south through Central California Sunday night ending Monday morning. A little rain may fall in southern California for a time Monday but amounts will certainly be lighter than this weekend.

After Monday the moisture will be cut off as another big ridge pokes up across the eastern Pacific into California. This will bring about another dry weather pattern with warmer temperatures again, especially in the south. A major fog and low clouds pattern is possible in the Central Valley as this is a perfect set up for all-day Tule fog pattern.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Ken Clark
Ken Clark's Western U.S. weather blog tackles daily weather events with commentary from one of the most experienced and trusted Western U.S. weather experts.