Rain, snow moving through parts of California

The first punch from El Niño of 2016 took aim on drought-stricken California this week.

Heavy rain and snow is expected to cover parts of the state through Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Coastal rain and high elevation snow developed Tuesday, and another set of storms were forecasted to return for Wednesday and into Thursday.

“We’ve had some rain and snow in the Sierras. Not extreme heavy amounts,” said Jim Mathews, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Sacramento. “It should be winding down for the rest of the (Tuesday) afternoon, though we might have a few isolated thunderstorms.”

The wettest part of the weather system was expected to be early Tuesday. The second wave is projected to arrive late Tuesday and into early Wednesday. The third system will extend into Thursday.

“We’ll see a break,” Mathews said. “We won’t have a long window of dry weather, but the worst of it has moved through the area.”

Although no severe flooding is expected, Mathews said minor street flooding is more likely. Lake County, which suffered catastrophic wildfires last year, is under a flood watch in burn-scarred areas. Heavy rain was expected in Lake County on Wednesday morning, though Mathews said he expected the areas to hold up and approached the impending weather severity with “cautious optimism.”

Four counties – Ventura, Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside – are all under “monitoring status” in the southern part of California, according to Cal OES Southern Regional Administrator Mona Bontty.

No emergency-related issues were reported as of early Tuesday afternoon.

“We are preparing for the worst, hoping for the best,” Bontty said.

Bontty reminded residents to stay in shelter until severe weather subsides. Other recommendations included: avoid water in roadways, use caution, monitor weather and media, and also have emergency supplies available.

In case of flash flooding, the American Red Cross warns to be prepared to have at least three-day supplies of food and water, as well as flashlights and battery-powered radios.

Severe weather storms also could produce power outages. Most utility companies in California provide instant updates on their respective websites.

For prolonged outages, monitor food in refrigerators and freezers and also maintain a supply of non-perishable foods.

Even with steady rainfall, California is still in a drought State of Emergency as of January 2014, as declared by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

To that, Bontty urged residents to be mindful of water conservation.

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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