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Atmospheric river to bring drenching rain, significant snow to Northern California

Atmospheric river to bring drenching rain, significant snow to Northern California
A storm brought flooding Feb. 15 to Guerneville, Calif. Another storm is expected to unleash rain and snow in Northern California this week. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Get your umbrellas back out because California’s wet winter isn’t over yet.

A moisture-rich atmospheric river that is bearing down on Northern California is expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain on portions of the Bay Area, unleash gusty winds and bring the potential for widespread flooding through at least Thursday.

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The storm, bringing warm air from the tropics into the region, is expected to raise snow levels to 6,000 feet across much of the Sierra Nevada, said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

“Above those elevations, we’re expecting some really significant snowfall,” Chandler-Cooley said, adding that most areas will see from 5 to 8 feet of fresh powder. Mammoth Mountain had a surfeit of snow earlier this month. Some ski resorts had to close.

Chandler-Cooley said the warm air that was expected to accompany this latest storm could melt snow that had fallen recently at lower elevations and cause small creeks, streams and rivers to flood. Strong winds of 20 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph in some areas will accompany the rain, forecasters say.

The same storm is expected to clip Southern California on Wednesday, bringing some precipitation that could linger through Thursday.

Forecasters late last week predicted that the Southland would be heating up this week, but that doesn’t look like it will happen. They say, however, that Los Angeles will likely avoid the significant drenching that has become synonymous with the warmer, wetter winter storm.

L.A. is expected to receive less than a quarter of an inch of rain. Another storm is expected to move into the region late Friday and linger through the weekend, though it is not clear how much rain that weather pattern may bring.

A series of winter storms this season has brought record-breaking rainfall and dropped snow levels dramatically across the state, bringing snow to L.A. and other areas that rarely see any. Last week, snow fell in Malibu, Pasadena, West Hollywood, Northridge, San Bernardino and Thousand Oaks and dusted Saddleback Mountain in Orange County.

The consistent rainfall has provided an 18-trillion-gallon soaking for the state this month and has reached nearly half the volume of Lake Tahoe.

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