A rather innocent-looking weather system off the coast of central British Columbia today will move rapidly south over the next two days and gather increasing amounts of moisture. The air mass ahead of this developing storm is already very cold for the time of year and not likely to warm much either. This storm is going to bring about accumulating snow to places that don't see it often.
The best snow will start in the southern Cascades of Oregon to the coastal Oregon valleys Friday then shift south into northern California Friday night, central California late Friday night into part of Saturday then into Southern California during Saturday.
In southern Oregon and northern California, snow will fall to between 500 and 1,000 feet above sea level with 1-4 inches below 1,000 feet and 3-6 inches above 3,000 feet and amounts in the northern Sierra and down to Tahoe above 5,000 feet getting 10-20 inches. Medford, Ore., can pick up 2-4 inches and Redding, Calif., along with other parts of the northern Sacramento Valley will get 1-3 inches of snow.
Snow is likely to fall in the higher elevations around the Bay Area with snow levels down to about 1,000-1,500 feet in much of central California. That means roads over the Coastal Range will get snow and could become hazardous. The lower foothills of the Sierra above 1,500 feet will pick up 3-6 inches of snow with the ski resorts getting 10-20 inches. It is very possible that some wet snowflakes or sleet pellets could be seen from Sacramento to Fresno at least mixed with the rain.
Not quite as much precipitation will reach Southern California, but here, too, snow levels will be low. Snow levels average 2,000-2,500 feet but may fall at times below that. Snow probably will fall in places on the desert floor in the upper deserts with an inch or two possible. Those traveling through the upper desert will need to be on the watch for icy roads from the Antelope Valley to the higher stretches of the I-15 traveling from the Cajon Pass toward Stateline.
The mountains of Southern California will get 3-6 inches above 3,000 feet with up to 8-10 inches at resort level.
Following this storm, reinforcing arctic air makes for two more very cold nights with records being challenged and broken. As I stated on Monday, the citrus industry and vegetable growers over all of California will be taking a hit and it could be a very expensive hit.
A prolonged rain-free pattern is setting in.
By this time in 1998 there was twice as much rain that had occurred to date compared to 2015-2016.
Could an unusual El Nino precipitation pattern be as simple as looking at the state of water temperatures?
One thing that I find interesting is that the pattern since fall has not been your typical El Nino storm pattern.
There are signs of a possible stormier pattern beginning the week of Jan. 18.
The cumulative effect of the series of storms will mean flooding, mudslides and debris flows are going to be a problems for much of the week