Storm brings lightning, flooding to Northern California

Lightning, flooding and snow was reported throughout Northern California as the season's biggest storm dumped rain across the state.

Numerous lightning strikes were recorded off the Bay Area, and forecasters warned that some strikes were possible inland. Thunderstorm activity was expected to increase along the coast Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area was walloped by its strongest rainstorm so far this year, dousing San Jose with 0.8 inches, San Francisco with 1.2 inches of rain and Marin County 1.5 inches as of 11 a.m. Trees were reported down around the region.

The latest downpour could be one of the wettest storms since 2009 for the Bay Area.


"Thus far, we're at about 11th in the wettest one-day period in the last eight or nine years," said forecaster Bob Benjamin of the National Weather Service's Monterey office. "It's likely the wettest period thus far this rain season, and quite possibly this calendar year."

Unlike most rainstorms that come from Alaska this time of year, this storm system came from a subtropical area of the Pacific Ocean southwest of California.

“It’s sort of a warm, moist storm,” Benjamin said, but doesn’t quite come from Hawaii as part of a “Pineapple Express storm.”

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, stretching from Napa to Monterey counties.

In downtown Sacramento, rain totals Tuesday morning were nearing the rainfall average of 0.38 inches for all of last December, which was extremely dry. Local street flooding was reported.

"We are going to get more rain [in one day] than last December," said Holly Osborne, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

Some periods of relief are expected, but Osborne said the storm will continue until Thursday.

A more severe flash flood watch was in effect in the burn areas of the King fire, which charred 98,000 acres of the El Dorado National Forest in September and October, and last year’s Rim Fire, the third-largest blaze in recorded state history, which burned more than a quarter million acres in and around Yosemite National Park.

A winter storm warning was in effect in the Sierra Nevadas, with the higher peaks expected to get 2 to 3 feet of snow.

Snow pummeled mountain communities above 7,000 feet overnight Tuesday with ski resorts reporting 2 to 5 inches of new snow, according to the California Highway Patrol's Truckee Station.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley received 10 inches of snow in the last 72 hours, according to the On the Snow ski report.

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