Pacific storm eases California drought, but has long way to go
One storm alone cannot turn the tide, but it was a welcome development, officials said.
Snowfall from the storm, which began late on Friday and ran through the weekend, averaged 3 to 5 feet (.9 to 1.5 metres)across the Sierras and neighboring mountains, with up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) measured at the highest peaks, meteorologists said.
The Sacramento Valley received 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of rain, with 10 to 16 inches (25 to 40 cm) soaking the foothills and lower elevations of the Sierra. The coastal mountains north of San Francisco got 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm), forecasters said.
Before Friday, any precipitation moving in from the Pacific had been diverted north into Canada by a ridge of high pressure that was parked for more than two months along the U.S. West Coast, meteorologists for the National Weather Service said.
The latest storm, which they described as an "atmospheric river," crashed through the barrier as it was starting to weaken and pushed it to the south in a shift that forecasters believe may pave the way for wetter weather in the short term.
"There's always the possibility of the ridge returning, but the latest model that we can see kind of keeps the ridge relatively weak and not re-establishing itself to the extent that it was through December and January," said Roger Gass, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Monterey.
Eric Kurth, a meteorologist in Sacramento, concurred, saying another Pacific storm expected to sweep the Pacific Northwest by midweek could reach well into northern and central California this weekend.
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