California to settle into a stormy weather pattern this week

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 11, 2018, 7:17:26 PM EDT

California and part of the southwestern United States will likely turn stormy and wet for an extended period for the middle of March.

A weather pattern favoring rounds of rain and mountain snow is forecast to begin by the middle of the week.

While much of the winter brought many days of sunshine to the region, a siege of cloudy skies and wet conditions is brewing.

Umbrellas and windshield wipers will be needed, while people traveling through the mountains are likely to find snow-covered roads and travel difficulties.

The pattern may offer significant help to drought-stricken areas but may also cause incidents of flash flooding and mudslides in recent burn scar locations, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark.

CA new March 11

Communities, such as Montecito, California, should be prepared for the risk of debris flows.

Several more feet of snow will likely pile up over the high country of the Sierra Nevada, which will later melt, run off and help boost the summer water supply.

Much of the area has been experiencing a return to or worsening drought conditions this winter due to a lack of rain and limited mountain snow.

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A large and slow-moving storm system is poised to drop slowly southward along the Pacific coast this week. As this happens, rounds of moisture are likely to be pumped onshore by the counterclockwise circulation of the storm.

There is the potential for at least some rain on a nearly daily basis, especially from the middle of the week to the following weekend for much of California.

Within the damp pattern, some episodes of heavy rain and snow are likely.

Motorists should be prepared for daily weather-related delays, and people spending time outdoors may want to have a back-up plan in place.

"Snow levels will lower from mid- to late week but will probably hover below Donner Pass, California, much of the time," Clark said.

"There is the potential for snow levels to dip so much that snow may fall on the passes in Southern California late this week as well," Clark said.

Along with episodes of rain and mountain snow will be the chance of locally gusty thunderstorms with hail.

At least one or more rounds of showers are likely to extend east of California and reach the deserts over the Southwest.

Even if the pattern develops to its full potential, additional rain and mountain snow would be needed to completely end the drought.

Conservation efforts are still warranted during and after the stormy pattern.

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