Sacramento dries out as ninth atmospheric river storm hits CA

The latest in a three-week-long series of atmospheric rivers pummeled California on Monday, prompting new flood advisories and road closures, causing fresh evacuation orders and dropping heavy snow on the Sierra Nevada.

But the sun came out Monday in Sacramento, where 17.79 inches of rain has fallen at the downtown gauge since Oct. 1, when California typically begins recording rainfall for the year. The average value through Jan. 16 is 8.14 inches, according to the weather service.

Two more inches of rain fell Sunday across the soaked Valley, where residents of Wilton and surrounding communities were warned to prepare to leave if the Cosumnes River rose further, but only a half-inch had fallen in the 24 hours ending at 3 p.m. Monday in downtown Sacramento, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters anticipate this is the tail end of the band of destructive weather events fueled by the Pineapple Express. The storms have flooded businesses, homes and roadways, downed trees, caused mudslides and avalanches and prompted widespread evacuations and road closures since the new year.

The weather service discouraged travel Monday across the Sierra Nevada due to heavy snow and treacherous driving conditions. The University of California Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab tweeted Monday morning that it had recorded more than four feet of new snow since Friday. And Idamis Del Valle-Shoemaker, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said another 2 feet of snow could drop on the mountaintops before Tuesday morning.

Flooding remains a concern

Still, authorities were busy Monday with emergency calls, including a rescue of motorists by the California Highway Patrol’s South Sacramento office from two cars stuck in floodwaters along Twin Cities Road near Rancho Seco. The area around Clay Station Road remains impassible, officials said.

The National Weather Service ended a flood warning Monday for the Cosumnes River at Michigan Bar and Mormon Slough at Bellota, but county emergency officials said “those returning home or venturing out onto the roads should remain alert to localized flooding and road conditions, emergency response and maintenance crews are still working to clear roads and restore outages.”

”If you must travel, be prepared for dangerous travel conditions, significant travel delays and road closures,” the weather service office in Sacramento said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, in the Bay Area and San Joaquin County, heavy overnight rain left many communities flooded and roads closed. In the city of Lodi, for instance, nearly 200 people had to be evacuated from a mobile home park that was inundated with water. Major highways across the Bay Area, including portions of Highway 101, were closed due to flooding and large potholes created by the overnight deluge.

Highway 1 along Big Sur remained closed Monday after Caltrans reported a new rock slide just south of Mill Creek in Monterey County the day earlier. Locations along the highway show “significant instability” after the recent run of rainfall, Caltrans said in a news release Sunday.

President Joe Biden on Sunday issued a major disaster declaration to increase support for the Golden State. The declaration, which was made at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, will help bolster response and recovery efforts related to the series of major winter storms that have pummeled the state, causing millions of dollars in damages. On Monday, Newsom signed an executive order to put federal and state money to work toward emergency response and waiving some limitations and fees normally in place.

At least 20 storm-related deaths have occurred from the storms, and a 5-year-old boy remained missing after being swept out of his mother’s car by floodwaters in San Luis Obispo County.

Forecast for the week in capital region

After this bout of rain and snow, forecasters are anticipating an easing of winter weather conditions, with cloudy and rainy skies parting for mostly sunshine and dry conditions over the next week.

A weaker system is forecast to drop some light rain on the Sacramento Valley Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday, as well as some snow for the Sierra. But aside from that, Northern California is set for a reprieve from the drenching it has seen in recent weeks.

“Right now the expected amounts are generating less than a half-inch of rain with lighter winds,” said Del Valle-Shoemaker. “At least for this week, the upcoming system won’t be nearly as strong as the previous ones.”

About 3 to 6 inches of new snow is predicted for the Sierra Nevada, she added.

“Even though the rain has mostly ended, there still are some lingering flooding impacts,” she said, “so take caution.”

Forecasters were keeping their eyes on a storm forming in the Pacific to see if it gains enough strength to become the state’s 10th atmospheric river of the season. Either way, it is likely to only bring light rain and will be confined mostly to Northern California when it makes landfall Wednesday, state climatologist Dr. Mike Anderson said Monday during a state weather briefing.

The Associated Press, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo and The Fresno Bee contributed to this story.

This story was originally published January 16, 2023 3:44 PM.

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Maggie Angst covers California politics and Gov. Gavin Newsom for The Sacramento Bee. Before joining The Bee’s Capitol Bureau, she worked for the Mercury News and East Bay Times where she covered San Jose City Hall and later wrote enterprise stories on the breaking news team.

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