California braces for major storms, hopes for drought relief

Meteorologists said the storms, set to drench Northern California early Saturday and continue through part of next week, could be the heaviest in a decade.

California braces for major storms, hopes for drought relief

World Bulletin / News Desk

Californians on Friday braced for a series of major storms expected to hit the western state over the weekend, bringing mudslides and power outages, but also much hoped-for relief from a six-year drought.

The stormy weather, described as a type of system called atmospheric rivers, come as the parched Golden State is experiencing its wettest winter in years.

"We've seen a very wet start this winter, really putting a hurt on the drought," said Andy Morin, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. 

"From a water supply standpoint, it's a banner year."

Morin, however, said it was too early in the season to cry victory and warned that the storms could also wreak havoc, especially in areas stripped of vegetation by massive wildfires in recent years.

In the mountains, warm enough rain could be disastrous, triggering early snow melt that storage systems -- which rely on snow to remain frozen until summer -- will not be able to handle.

Authorities said up to 12 inches of rain, mainly in the northern part of the state, is expected at lower altitudes while up to six feet of snow is forecast at higher altitudes.

The atmospheric river, a narrow plume of moisture emanating from the tropics or subtropics, is packing the same strength as a series of storms that hit the state a decade ago, causing an estimated $300 million in damages, according to the US Geological Survey.

Authorities said heavy rain and snow could force the shutdown of Yosemite National Park, which turned into a flood zone 20 years ago when the Merced River overflowed.

At the time, what was called "the flood of the century," washed away campgrounds and bridges and forced the shutdown of the park for more than two months.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Ocak 2017, 11:14