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Western US weather

Abnormal parade of May storms in the West continues into next week

By Brian Thompson , AccuWeather meteorologist
5/17/2019, 9:36:05 AM

A rare string of May storms will continue to bring rounds of rain (and high mountain snow) to the West through next week.

The most recent round moved through from Wednesday into Thursday, bringing unseasonably high rain amounts to the Southwest.

Many cities across California are already near or above their average rainfall for the entire month of May. Sacramento just about doubled their average monthly rain in the span of less than 24 hours, thanks to the 1.3 plus inches the city picked up Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Venado, in Sonoma County, received over 5 inches of rain from the storm.

There will be a brief break from Friday into Saturday across Central and Southern California, and there will be a decent amount of sunshine before clouds increase Saturday afternoon.

The next upper low will approach on Saturday, with rain once again overspreading western Oregon as well as Northern California.

Western Blog First Upper Low 5/16

The heaviest rain amounts will once again be along the Northern California coast and in the foothills east of the Sacramento Valley, where there will be an inch or more of rain in most spots. The heaviest rain bands could yield 3 or 4 inches of rain in some isolated locations.

The rain will continue to spread southeastward into Saturday night, and there could be a significant rainfall into Sunday from the Bay Area through the Sacramento Valley. Places like San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento and Modesto will likely receive another half inch or more of rain.

Depending on where the low goes and where the rain bands set up, even the San Joaquin Valley could be in line for another significant rain event. Fresno (which just received 0.76 of an inch of rain from the last storm) and even Bakersfield could receive another half inch or so from this next storm.

Farther south, toward Los Angeles and San Diego, this next system should not bring quite as much rain as the most recent one. Most places across Southern California will likely see around a quarter inch or less of rain, except for some of the higher terrain where amounts will be higher.

Snow levels will be teetering around 6,000 to 7,000 feet from the Pacific Northwest through Central California, and some places will see more than a foot of new snow in the Sierras. Snowy travel will once again be a problem in some of the higher passes.

Just like the last storm, wind looks like it will once again be a problem.

Winds will once again ramp up along much of the California coast on Sunday. The greatest threat for strong winds will also extend from the high deserts eastward toward Las Vegas, southern Utah and much of northern Arizona. Winds will gust from 30 to 45 mph, with some higher gusts possible in the higher mountains.

This is not the end of the line, as another upper-level low will approach the Pacific Northwest, spreading rain and gusty winds into Washington and Oregon on Tuesday.

The low will then slide down the West Coast into Wednesday. As it does so, the rain threat will spread southward into the Southwest again.

Western Upper Low Next Week 5/16

More mountain snow is expected, with snow levels once again around 6,000 feet or so.

Even in areas that do not see steadier periods of rain with the weekend storm and the storm early next week, there will be plenty of cold air aloft. Any convective showers (and thunderstorms) will once again have the potential to produce downpours and small hail.

All of the cold air aloft will translate to cooler weather at the surface. Afternoon high temperatures across the central valleys of California will be 10 to 20 degrees below average for much of the next week.

Active Pattern in the West 5/16

So how does it look beyond the middle of next week? There are signs that yet another upper low will develop heading into next weekend, which could bring more showers from Washington to Central California.

That may not be the best news for Memorial Day weekend activities, but it continues to be good news for the reservoirs. It's also good news across the Pacific Northwest, where it’s been a fairly dry spring at times; these showers could help to delay the wildfire season a bit.

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


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Western US weather