Meteorologists say a one-two punch of storm systems this week is expected to wrap the Bay Area into a rainy season for the coming week, while potentially making holiday travel “too challenging to impossible” in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Is.
Sunny skies should give way to rain in the Bay Area on Monday evening as the first of two systems moves into the area from the Gulf of Alaska. National Weather Service meteorologist Brooke Bingman said the storm is expected to mark the start of a week of bad weather that could drop two or three inches of rain in the Bay Area’s three largest cities, while drenching the Santa Cruz Mountains .
“It’s going to be a wet Christmas week, and through the holiday weekend,” she said.
To the east, the storm is expected to drop several feet of snow over the Sierra Nevada mountains over the next week — making traveling through the holiday weekend “at times from impossible to very challenging,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Zach Tolby. ,
Anna Wanless, another National Weather Service meteorologist, said several feet of snow – including possibly five to eight feet along the highest reaches of the Sierra – are forecast to begin Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday and continue through December 26.
“We know a lot of people will be on the roads, and we just want to let them know that this is going to be a tough holiday travel situation,” Wanless said.
Bingman said that in the Bay Area, most rainfall totals through December 26 are forecast to be concentrated along the Santa Cruz Mountains and Big Sur, which can receive 5 to 7 inches of rain. The Coastal Mountains of Sonoma County may also receive 7-8 inches of rain.
Less rainfall should be expected in more low lying areas. Bingman said San Jose is forecast to receive 1.75 inches of rain next week, while Oakland and San Francisco could receive 2 to 3 inches.
Because of the recent atmospheric river deluge into the Bay Area, incoming systems are expected to bring slow, steady rain — meaning a potentially low risk of flooding or dangerous runoff at the burn mark, she said. .
By Friday, snow levels could drop to 3,000 feet, adding to the outdoor potential that areas like Mount Hamilton or Mount Diablo could see another dusting of snow on Christmas Eve, Bingman said.
Despite several atmospheric river storms in recent months, oncoming storms continue to hit the Bay Area and California has been mired in extreme and exceptional drought. And while there are encouraging signs of relief recently, experts say far more rainfall is needed in the next few months to break into the state’s prolonged drought.
The most recent storm last week increased California’s statewide snowpack by 19 percent from its December 10 average to 98% on Friday, according to the National Weather Service’s California Nevada River Forecast Center.
San Jose International Airport has received 4.85 inches of rain since the beginning of October. That’s 153% of normal for that time period, Bingman said.
Since October 1, the Oakland and San Francisco airports have received 217% of normal rainfall, he said. Oakland has received 10.98 inches of rain during that time, while San Francisco has received 11.24 inches so far.
“The positive is that we’ve got a good, strong start to this wet season,” Bingman said. “So there’s reason to be optimistic. But most of our rain in the wet season comes in January, February and March.
“So as long as we continue to see rainfall for the rest of the wet season, we should at least be on track in terms of helping us out of the drought.”