Heavy rain could cause businesses and homes to flood in western California this week from the upcoming Atmospheric River event in California. 

According to the National Weather Service, an atmospheric river will impact parts of western California Tuesday through Thursday bringing prolonged periods of moderate to heavy rain, snow, and gusty south winds.


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an atmospheric river is “a flowing column of condensed water vapor” that moves through the atmosphere and cools, producing heavy amounts of rain and snow. The NOAA says powerful atmospheric rivers could cause flooding and even mudslides.


Snow: Snow will begin late Tuesday afternoon across the Oregon Cascades and northern California, extending down the spine of the Sierra Nevada through Tuesday night into Wednesday, and will continue across northern and central California into Friday. This will be an unusually cold storm with snow levels in northern California falling to between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, and significant snowfall over 1 foot expected above 2,000 feet. The heaviest snowfall with rates to 3″/hr and accumulations of 4-8 feet will occur above 5,000 feet in the Sierra including Donner Pass, as well as above 3,500 feet near Mount Shasta. Accumulations of 2-4 feet will occur across the high terrain of northern California, as well as across the Sierra Nevada above 3,000 feet. Snow will diminish across the Sierra Nevada Friday afternoon and southern California by Friday evening.
Rain: Rain will impact much of the coastal and lower elevations of California beginning early Wednesday morning. Heavy rainfall will be expected along the coast and Coastal Ranges, as well as in the lower foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Heavy rainfall totals of 3-6 inches will occur across coastal California and the northern San Joaquin Valley, with the heaviest rainfall amounts of 6-12 inches falling at rates to 1″/hr in the Central Coastal Range. Heavy rain will cause concern for mudslides and debris flows near steep terrain and in burn scar areas. Rain will diminish across northern California Friday morning, and by Friday evening in southern California.

Winds: High winds to 55 mph will occur Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday afternoon from coastal northern California into the Bay Area, and the Lower Sacramento Valley. High winds will continue into Thursday morning along the central California coast.

The rain and snow is good news in a state experiencing a severe to extreme drought, but it has prompted a flash flood watch because of how quickly it’s set to fall.

If you are in need of water damage or flooding restoration services from this Atmospheric River event in California, ServiceMaster DSI can help. Visit our flood and water damage disaster resource center or call 844-413-3130.

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