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Heavy Rain and Snow Are Expected Over Much of California

A sprawling weather system was forecast to bring torrential rain and heavy snow across California on Tuesday, a day after wreaking havoc on the northern part of the state, meteorologists said.

The National Weather Service said there was a slight risk of excessive rainfall over parts of Southern California through Wednesday morning, leading to the possibility of flash floods.

In addition, heavy snow, which could reduce visibility and create hazardous driving conditions, was expected over the Pacific Northwest before ending Tuesday night, the Weather Service said.

“Sure, you’ve heard of ‘Elf on the Shelf,’ but how about ‘Fountain on the Mountain’?” Weather Service forecasters wrote on Twitter on Monday, adding that more than five feet of snow was forecast for parts of the Sierra Nevada through Wednesday, rendering travel conditions in the mountains dangerous.

By early Tuesday, parts of Northern California were under a variety of weather watches and warnings.

Areas around Sacramento were under a winter storm warning through Tuesday night, with Shasta County expecting one to three feet of snow, with up to six feet in higher elevations. In the Lassen and Sierra areas, forecasters predicted two to five feet of snow.

The storm was also forecast to create moderate to heavy rain, gusty winds and snow across southwestern California through Tuesday.

A flood watch was in effect through Tuesday evening for southern portions of the state, including coastal areas in Orange and San Diego Counties, as well as the San Bernardino Mountains. The coasts and valleys could see up to three inches of rain, while the mountains could see up to six.

The rain and snow were expected to end over Southern California by Wednesday morning.

Conditions across Northern California were equally terrible on Monday. Kirkwood Mountain Resort said on Twitter that it would not open because of 17 inches of snow and high winds. Wet weather also made for messy commutes, causing several crashes on Highway 99 and Interstate 5, according to ABC 10, a TV station in Sacramento. Parts of I-80 were closed because of downed power lines.

The storm, despite its threat of flooding, may bring much needed rain to the drought-stricken state, where conditions are generally either extreme or exceptional, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. To make matters more dire, last month was the second-warmest November on record for California, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The bulk of California’s annual precipitation typically falls between December and March. A recent outlook from NOAA suggested that the northern and southern halves of the state may experience diverging water fortunes this winter because of La Niña, a weather phenomenon that generally means drier, warmer conditions in the southern half of the United States and wetter weather in the northern half.

Scientists expect that La Niña this winter will lead to below-average precipitation in a large swath of California, stretching from the Bay Area to the state’s southern border. They expect warmer than average temperatures for Southern California and eastern parts of Central California.

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