Weekend storm to deliver welcome rain to drought-stricken California

By Kyle Elliott, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 10, 2018, 7:12:31 PM EST

A storm will bring needed rain and mountain snow to much of California into Saturday night.

The report from the U.S. Drought Monitor on March 8 showed that 22 percent of California remains in severe drought, with moderate drought gripping 48 percent of the state.

Areas from central to Southern California are experiencing the worst of the drought, including the cities of Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Spanning December to February, only 1.81 inches of rain fell at the Los Angeles Civic Center when the city typically receives 9.25 inches during that period.

San Diego received only 38 percent of its normal rainfall from December through February, and only about a quarter of an inch of rain has fallen so far in March.

Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has been running well below normal this winter.

"As of March 9, the water content of the snowpack across California is only 38 percent of where it should be by this date," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

The storm that brought rain and mountain snow to the Northwest through Thursday night largely missed California.

Fortunately, some relief is on the way this weekend as a round of soaking rainfall targets the southern half of California into Saturday night.

“Areas from Los Angeles to San Diego could receive beneficial rain from this system, which could help to put a dent in the drought and also raise the water level of area reservoirs,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Leister.

Between one half and 1 inch of rain can fall along the Grapevine and from Los Angeles to San Diego, with 1-2 inches along the southwestern-facing slopes of the foothills and mountains.

CA March 10 pm

"Despite being a boost for the region's water supply, the rain will raise the risk for flooding and debris flows in the burn areas, including around Montecito, California," Pydynowski said. "Residents should remain vigilant of the situation and be prepared to evacuate if necessary."

Airline travelers in Los Angeles and San Diego can anticipate delays.

While lesser amounts of rain are expected across central California, enough rain can still fall to dampen roadways and alleviate abnormally dry conditions.

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For those heading outdoors this weekend, the rain gear and umbrella will be a necessity, but the upcoming soaker should be much more beneficial than detrimental to the region.

Six to as much as 12 inches of snow may fall in the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada, boosting the late-season ski industry and bringing the seasonal snowfall a bit closer to normal.

“Dry conditions should return to kick off the upcoming week, but all of California will turn stormier as the week progresses,” Leister added.

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