Updated Dec. 28, 3:49 p.m.
The tail end of the wettest winter storm so far this year is rolling through Northern California and the Sacramento region on Tuesday — and even though it’s winding down, people should expect another week of rain and wind, plus snow in the mountains.
National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Kurth affirmed that we're just getting started.
“We do get a bit of a lull on Wednesday and Wednesday evening,” he began. “Then that next system comes on Wednesday night, and then continues through Thursday.”
He continued: “But I should mention that there's another system that comes in right behind that. It goes from Friday into Saturday.”
And Kurth says there are solid chances for yet another storm, which is forecast to begin next week, in the new year, possibly Sunday night or Monday.
Across the country, deadly storms have wreaked havoc, causing the deaths of dozens of people in the northeast, blanketing communities in historic levels of snow and ice and stranding airline passengers.
Suitcases had accumulated by Dec. 27, 2022, near the baggage claim area in the Sacramento International Airport after Southwest Airlines flight cancellations led luggage to arrive before passengers with holiday travel plans.AP Photo/Sophie Austin
At the Sacramento International Airport, four out of five Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled, forcing passengers to wait in hours-long lines to reschedule flights and filling terminals with luggage.
With another atmospheric river on the horizon this week, travelers could expect additional challenges, whether navigating the airways or roads.
Strong winds and rain will continue to soak the valleys, and a winter storm warning is in effect until midday Wednesday for the Sierra Nevada mountains. And there are those two additional storms on the way, with more rain and snow likely Thursday through Saturday.
This first round will leave well over an inch of rain in the Sacramento area. This has not translated to snow in the mountains, though, except at the highest elevations, according to Kurth.
“This is a relatively warm atmospheric river system,” he said. “So, snow levels are higher than what we've been seeing this year. We've had some fairly cool low snow level systems. But this one is warm.”
The first of two back-to-back storms are set to arrive Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, with rain and snow forecast all the way through Saturday. But the storms arriving in the region also appear to be warmer systems, with snow levels at relatively high elevations, again, and rain that could accelerate premature melting and runoff of snowpack.
“While we are seeing rain over a lot of the mountains, if you're going over the Sierra passes, those areas are gonna be hit with quite a bit of snow. There's a winter storm warning that's in effect until 10 a.m. Wednesday. So if you can avoid travel, especially over the Sierra passes, I'd recommend it,” Kurth said.
This story will be updated.
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