Much-Needed Rain, Snow to Dip into California

January 18, 2012; 5:48 AM ET
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The train of storms hitting the Northwest will progress into California during the last part of this week into the next, marking an end to the rain and snow drought.

According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "The upcoming rain and mountain snow in northern areas will be a blessing for agricultural, watershed and skiing interests."

There hasn't been a drop of rain in San Francisco and Sacramento and only a few flakes of snow in Lake Tahoe since the middle of December. You have to go back to before Thanksgiving before you find measurable rain in Fresno.

The same weather pattern that brought exceptional warmth all the way to the Canada Prairies drove storms into Alaska and not along the West Coast of the U.S.

However, the pattern has changed to the point now where storms will sweep from west to east along the northern third of the U.S. and will occasionally dip into northern California, Nevada and Utah.

From the middle of this week to the middle of next week marks one of those periods where these same areas will receive precipitation.

"Along the coast of northern California to the Sacramento Valley will catch a few episodes of rain, while the northern Sierra Nevada to the Wasatch will gather needed snow," Clark said.

Rain and snow amounts will vary from the several systems AccuWeather.com meteorologists expect to swing through. However, it appears that several inches of rain will fall along the coast, north of the Bay Area with an inch to perhaps a bit more around the Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley.

In the northern Sierra Nevada, this pattern lasting about a week or so can deliver several feet of snow.

Even in portions of Southern California, the combination of several attempts of rain may deliver a half an inch to some lucky locales.

Clark feels the first chance of this will be during Friday night/Saturday over the Los Angeles area.

Drenching rain and mountain snow were already falling over northernmost California today. However, the first big southward dip in the precipitation pattern is expected to begin tonight.

Rain is forecast to move into San Francisco and Sacramento during the morning hours Thursday. A mixture of rain and snow is forecast to reach Donner Pass Thursday with snow in the high country.

Snow was already getting a jump start in northern Utah today with up to several inches forecast to fall on the Benches east of Salt Lake City by Thursday morning.

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