Atmospheric river to take aim on California with major storm

A 1 in 10 year storm event is expected to hit Northern California this weekend. Rainfall totals could easily be twice the average precipitation for January.

An atmospheric river will take aim with heavy precipitation, high snow levels and soils that are already saturated from recent storms. Precipitation starts Saturday, but the brunt of the storm will be Sunday & Monday. Forecasters say this will exceed stream and river flood levels last seen in 2005.



Snowfall ahead of the storm will be significant, then likely melt with the second warmer event Sunday:


Rainfall amounts over the weekend are likely to be heavy in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and higher mountain areas.


This is going to be some of the more significant flooding we’ve seen in the past decade. Areas may flood that haven’t seen impacts for several years.

According to Dr. Ryan Maue:

If this isn’t the end of the California drought then it’s the beginning of the end of the end. 7-day NCEP WPC liquid equivalent precip:


Unfortunately, California’s outdated reservoir system will likely not capture but a fraction of that water for later use.

From the NWS Sacramento Forecast Discussion:

Deep atmospheric moisture becomes focused over the Northern California Sunday resulting in periods of moderate to heavy rain with snow levels

above 8000 feet. Flood watch in place to cover potential flooding of urban areas, small streams and creeks, and unregulated rivers in the foothills and West Slopes of the Sierra Nevada, such as the Cosumnes. Heaviest precipitation appears to be focused over southern portions of the Sacramento Valley and Northern San Joaquin Valley, Motherlode, and Sierra Nevada Sunday into Sunday night. Models point to a second atmospheric river setting up over the area Tuesday into Wednesday with more significant precip. Have expanded the Flood Watch to include this.

Heavy precip looks to continue along the Motherlode and West Slopes of the Sierra Nevada Monday morning with lighter precip elsewhere across the CWA. Storm QPF Saturday through Monday ranges from 2 to 6 inches in the Central Valley, 3 to 8 inches in the foothills and Coastal/Shasta mountains, and 7 to 14 inches for the Western Plumas mountains and Sierra Nevada. Precipitation amounts this high have not been seen since the storms of December 2005 and could surpass the average monthly total for many areas.

Colder air pushes into the area Monday with lowering snow levels.

Wet pattern continues into the extended period as the next land- falling moisture plume moves into Norcal on Tue, to be followed by another plume on Thu. Precipitation lingers on Wed as Norcal will be in between weather systems (TPW plumes). Slight ridging ahead of the approacing Eastern  Pacific trough is expected to shift the precip Northward onto the Northern CA coast with orographic effects prevailing over the Sierra on Tue. WAA ahead and associated with the moisture plume is expected to raise snow levels Tue/Tue nite. Then, a dip in snow levels Tue nite into Wed as the precip begins to diminish. Modest fluctuations in snow levels expected with a more modest moisture plume on Thu. With that said, snow levels are expected to remain below pass levels so this will be a couple of snowier weather systems with greater snow impacts, but less runoff. However, with rivers and streams still elevated from previous rains, additional rainfall over the foothills and Valley will continue the potential for flooding.

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a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 2:00 am

You do realise, that this 1 in 10 year storm will be upscaled, to a 1 in 100 year storm – by the MSM.
We can also expect the word ‘worst ever’ to be repeated ad nauseam.

Mike Bromley the wannabe Kurd
Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 2:03 am

Sepfer 1964…..

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Mike Bromley the wannabe Kurd
January 6, 2017 4:28 am

My father was a PG&E lineman. I remember lifting him out of the car and carrying him into the house too fatigued to but weep in 1964.

Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 2:12 am

………..and experts will asssure you it is caused by climate change.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  AndyE
January 6, 2017 3:00 am

No, fossil fuels… Climate change, what is that? Cold hot, dry warm, dry flood, snow rain, no ice need for icebreakers…ZZZZZzzzzzzz…….

Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 6:29 am

Also “unprecedented”.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
January 6, 2017 7:06 am

But at the same time, “the new norm”

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
January 6, 2017 7:55 am

Yeah, I really get a chuckle form reporters who call something unprecedented since….the last time it happened.
“You keep using that word “unprecedented”. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

James Bull
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
January 6, 2017 10:44 pm

I think it’s inconceivable that it’s unprecedented and here’s the proof. Enjoy.

James Bull

george e. smith
Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 10:26 am

What is it about highway 80; “The 80 to you socalers)”, that can turn a 5-10 year storm suddenly into a 10-25 year storm.
Izzere some kind of storm barrier built along “the 80” ??

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
January 6, 2017 10:31 am

In silicon valley we get 10-25 year storms every year.
No big deal. Just clean the leaves out of the gutter.
So we are about to find out just how badly Apple’s interminable road dig ups in Sunnyvale have screwed up the Wolfe Road storm drainage efficiency. And we have had to endure all that traffic night mares just to provide some grey water for Apple to water its silly rooftop gardens.

James at 48
Reply to  george e. smith
January 6, 2017 11:13 am

The jet is prog’ed to set up in a manner it will span from Marin-ish to Big Sur-ish at the coast. Diagonal NE from there. 80 is at the northwestern edge of where the jet is prog’ed to set up.

Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 11:07 am

Women and minorities hurt most.

Tom O
Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 12:27 pm

Your thoughts are unprecedented

Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 6, 2017 9:03 pm


Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 6, 2017 11:13 pm


Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 8, 2017 11:49 am


Reply to  a happy little debunker
January 9, 2017 5:03 am

An by the SAME people who told us, a year ago, that California would RUN OUT OF WATER, by this year.

Mike Bromley the wannabe Kurd
January 6, 2017 2:03 am

The Eel River should carry away some more of the Northwestern Pacific infrastructure….

James at 48
Reply to  Mike Bromley the wannabe Kurd
January 6, 2017 11:15 am

Nope. Too far north. The atmospheric river will miss the North Coast.

Reply to  James at 48
January 6, 2017 1:14 pm

Hmmm, I wonder. Here is the projected flow for 8 Jan @06:00Z (7 Jan 22:00 PST):,39.17,967

Reply to  James at 48
January 6, 2017 4:13 pm

That new change in heading will bring the rain into Cape Mendocino. Then the storm will move into my neck of the woods in Trinity County before crossing the valley towards the Sierras. The local forecast is 7 days of either rain or snow. Last night was down to 10F which is well below average for the area.

January 6, 2017 2:24 am

Prepare for MSM reports stating the storm ‘slammed’, ‘hammered’, ‘smashed’ California, etc. It gets tedious.

Reply to  Jer0me
January 6, 2017 9:37 am

I love “Make a plan”. What, build an ark? If your home sits in a flood-prone spot, you already planned poorly. “You decided what you were going to do, Charles, some time ago.”

Randy Stubbings
Reply to  Jer0me
January 6, 2017 3:50 pm

The Weather Network’s Canadian website one day provided a headline about a “catastrophic landslide” in the mountains in the Yukon. If you read the article, it noted that the landslide was caught on a satellite image. Nobody was around when it happened because it was 100 km from the nearest human settlement. If that is catastrophic, I can only imagine what the rains will be billed as.

Reply to  Randy Stubbings
January 6, 2017 11:44 pm

It was catastrophic for lichens and ptarmigan and the like. Don’t they count?

January 6, 2017 2:54 am

So I’m looking at the San Jose CA forecast for the next .. 15 days:

TODAY          Partly Cloudy
Sat Jan 7       Rain
Sun Jan 8       Rain / Wind
Mon Jan 9       Showers
Tue Jan 10      Rain
Wed Jan 11      AM Showers
Thu Jan 12      Showers
Fri Jan 13      Showers
Sat Jan 14      Showers
Sun Jan 15      Showers
Mon Jan 16      Showers
Tue Jan 17      Showers
Wed Jan 18      Showers
Thu Jan 19      Few Showers
(that's as far as it goes)
Bryan A
Reply to  Eric Simpson
January 6, 2017 10:10 am

You might need to Sand Bag to keep that drought out of the house

January 6, 2017 3:28 am

…. ten year storm following the last year’s ten year drought… could it simply mean that quasi-biannual (Pacific) cycles go on for 10-11 years, when the next solar cycle determines future trends. /sarc ?
“What goes up must come down” said Newton, however Einstein had different view of these matters.

Reply to  vukcevic
January 6, 2017 7:24 am

Well, for most applications, Einstein was just too relativistic. /sarc

Bryan A
Reply to  RockyRoad
January 6, 2017 10:12 am

Careful what you say about Albert’s nephew Istic

Reply to  vukcevic
January 6, 2017 8:01 am

There is an old saying here in CA that says almost as much about the entrenched bureaucracy as it does about the logic.
“You can tell when the drought is over when the sign on the office door gets repainted from ‘California Drought Control Board’ to ‘California Flood Control Board’.”

Reply to  rocketscientist
January 6, 2017 8:46 am

Over-here (UK) they just appoint a minister for drought and since ‘ the god is English’ problem is resolved within days.
“The 1976 United Kingdom heat wave led to the hottest summer average temperature in the UK since records began. At the same time, the country suffered a severe drought. It was one of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers (June/July/August) in the 20th century.
The effect on domestic water supplies led to the passing of a Drought Act by parliament and Minister for Drought, Denis Howell, was appointed ….. days after Denis Howell was appointed ‘Minister for Drought’, severe thunderstorms brought rain to some places for the first time in weeks. September and October 1976 were both very wet months, bringing to an end the great drought of 1975–1976.”

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  vukcevic
January 6, 2017 8:27 am

So did Von Braun.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 6, 2017 8:28 am

““What goes up must come down” said Newton, however Einstein had different view of these matters.”
So did Von Braun.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 6, 2017 11:56 am

Much of what von Braun sent up DID come down. On London.

January 6, 2017 3:54 am

Just think how much state money, misspent due to hysterical predictions by the Green Brigade, that Governor Brown could have spent on building the necessary reservoir capacity needed to capture far more of these relatively frequent storms and thus avoid the droughts he’s moaning about!

Jim Uren
Reply to  macawber
January 6, 2017 3:58 am

Yeah. I’ll take more reservoirs over “high speed train” any day.

James at 48
Reply to  Jim Uren
January 6, 2017 11:25 am

Issue is, the really good up country sites for dams are already taken with existing dams. Now, getting a bit creative, a different reservoir paradigm could work. Namely, build them in lower country. The structure would be like a salt evaporator – an enclosure defined by levees. Low / zero productivity land could be used. For example, the area south of the American River and below the Foothills where lots of tailings and muck from the old hydro gold mining was dumped. That could be dug / graded and turned into a basin for this. There are also played out ag lands where impermeable shallow layers built up salts and are no longer worth irrigating. After some initial work, it might be possible to set something up there that would not burp the salts up into the reservoir after it was filled. In any case, creativity is needed.

Peter Miller
January 6, 2017 3:55 am

I want to be the first to say it, “This is further definitive proof of climate change.”
The ecoloons are certain to be saying it en masse in the days ahead.
Natural, rare, occurences of abnormal weather are always ‘further definitive proof of climate change’ in the minds of the Klimate faithful.

Reply to  Peter Miller
January 6, 2017 4:08 am

You don’t need a PhD to know that climate changes; even the peasants in 17th Century – 18th Century Europe realised this during the mini-ice age!

Patrick MJD
January 6, 2017 4:20 am

Models again…

January 6, 2017 4:55 am

Patrick MJD January 6, 2017 at 4:20 am
Models again…
Care to suggest a way of weather forecasting without models? (or seaweed or chiken bones or tea leaves)

John Boles
January 6, 2017 5:11 am

We can expect to hear the words “impact” and “impactful” ad nauseam.

Reply to  John Boles
January 6, 2017 12:32 pm

Yah mon, we must roll dem bones, you know!

January 6, 2017 5:14 am

It doesn’t count until they give it a name…..
You know….it’s like Texas…..always a permanent drought….between storms

ron long
Reply to  Latitude
January 6, 2017 6:28 am

Yea, and because Texas is so big their rain storms are also very big. I saw once where they had a 20 foot rain….OK, that turned out to be the distance between raindrops! If I say “Go Oklahoma” do I need to add the sarc tag?

Mike Maguire
January 6, 2017 5:18 am

Excellent article/discussion of the top weather event on the planet right now.

Bill Illis
January 6, 2017 5:20 am

GFS has a massive amount of rain coming this weekend and next. Over 10 inches for most of northern California between the two. Southern areas get less but will still be welcome relief.

David A
Reply to  Bill Illis
January 6, 2017 8:28 am

Models hinting at similar atmospheric river flow the following week.

Peter Morris
January 6, 2017 5:41 am

zOMG Xtreme weather everybody! Find some virgins and throw them into the volcano, quick!

January 6, 2017 5:44 am

BBC news in a panic over the Antarctica’s iceberg.

Eustace Cranch
Reply to  vukcevic
January 6, 2017 5:54 am

From the article: “It is believed that climate warming has brought forward the likely separation of the iceberg but the scientists say they have no direct evidence to support this.”
Belief with no evidence. The whole climate issue in a nutshell right there.

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
January 6, 2017 9:46 am

You choose to denigrate the power of “Hope and Change”, sir. The alarmists all have their fingers (and legs) crossed, praying for vindication. I mean, what if the ice doesn’t all melt in the next few years, and the seas don’t rise? There’d be some ‘splainin’ to do, if only it wasn’t for their allies, the mainstream media, who will smooth over the transition to the next phase of climate alarmism (TBA).

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
January 6, 2017 10:47 am

Eustace, +many!

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
January 6, 2017 1:32 pm

brian, are you saying that with the election of Trump, the oceans have stopped rising?

Reply to  MarkW
January 6, 2017 1:55 pm

No, Trump has not stopped anything. The seas have been rising steadily for centuries – at a much lower rate than a snail’s pace, about 8 inches in the last 100 years according to EPA:
The alarmists claim that we are witnessing a scary *acceleration* of the rising, but the graph does not suggest that, but the satellite data refutes that. Confronted with that data, the alarmists switch to “we are *about* to experience” a rapid, even catastrophic, sea level rise. Because ipso facto “climate change”.

Reply to  MarkW
January 7, 2017 10:35 am

>brian, are you saying that with the election of Trump, the oceans have stopped rising?
I am saying that the oceans aren’t rising.
I have not read of ANY loss of beach front property.
I have read a lot about “sea level rise” really being beach erosion, land erosion, and such.
Don’t take you eco-religion into politics if you don’t want my Christine religion being in politics…Separation of state and religion, a non-constitutional view, applies your all-controlling and profess religion also.

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
January 6, 2017 2:30 pm

PS Here is typical projection of future sea level rise. Intuitively, actual rise will most likely follow the bottom of the blue projection region, a continuation of the 100-year trend we are riding. Of course the alarmists will insist on the worst case top of the blue region – worse. “You know, because “tipping point” and all that.

January 6, 2017 5:54 am

Interesting that last yr’s El Nino didn’t amount to much CA rain, but this yr’s weak La Nina is. Guess it shows weather is complicated…….

bill johnston
Reply to  beng135
January 6, 2017 9:19 am

So why hasn’t somebody come up with a computer program to “uncomplicate” things by now??

Mike Maguire
Reply to  beng135
January 6, 2017 10:30 am

“Interesting that last yr’s El Nino didn’t amount to much CA rain, but this yr’s weak La Nina is. Guess it shows weather is complicated”
You aren’t kidding!
The El Nino and La Nina are determined by conditions/temperatures in a key location of the tropical Pacific………..but the rest of the Pacific is huge. The Pacific Ocean, overall the next 2 weeks and in November has been acting more like it would in El Nino years, despite the cooler temps in the key Nino 3.4 region.
The PDO index that was very high thru the El Nino and plunged in late Summer/early Fall, jumped back up in November but I don’t have the December number.
Also, the warm blob in the Northeast Pacific in the previous La Nina that was helping to reinforce the teleconnection upper level ridging along the West Coast is gone.
La Nina’s often see more upper level ridging along the West Coast of North America, which deflects the firehose jet stream to the north. Next week, that jet will be aimed directly at Northern California and vicinity with an upper level low off the Pacific Northwest Coast.
So. basically the weather is ignoring the temps in the small Nino 3.4 region and getting its cues from the rest of the Pacific.

James at 48
Reply to  beng135
January 6, 2017 11:18 am

This is a “wet” La Nina. Meaning, the “rain line” between the typical “PacNW” wet zone and “SW US” dry zone of La Nina cuts across CA. Nor Cal is with PacNW. Meanwhile the rest of CA is with the SW US in this set up.

Reply to  James at 48
January 6, 2017 11:57 am

The winter of 2010-2011 was a moderate La Niña winter, and a series of spring atmospheric rivers resulted in an almost unprecedentedly heavy western US snowpack on 1 June 2011:

William Astley
January 6, 2017 5:58 am

The following are the California major reservoir levels prior to the major rainfall event.

Reply to  William Astley
January 6, 2017 10:32 am

The subject of this thread isn’t the first significant north-central CA rain event in the last few months, and sure enough, most of the reservoirs are already in good shape, especially considering it’s still early winter. Too bad the state hasn’t updated this drought map since 3 January, as a lot of rain entered the soil on 3, 4 and 5 January, setting the stage for the flooding to come:

Reply to  brians356
January 6, 2017 4:19 pm

If this rain stays warm, then there is a lot of snow to melt at this time. I live at 2000 ft elevation, and have almost 6 inches of hardened snow on the ground.

January 6, 2017 6:13 am

Can I be the first to say this is not a symptom of climate change? Taken in isolation, this is just weather. There would have to be a much longer record of differing weather patterns to give that sort of information. On the other hand, if you get ten year droughts, then huge rainstorms on a regular basis, building big reservoirs would seem to be a good idea. Some Egyptian called Moses persuaded his King of the wisdom of that concept.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 7:14 am

Actually, it was a Hebrew called Joseph who persuaded the Egyptian Pharaoh to stockpile food in anticipation of the coming famine. Moses came along about 400 years later.

Reply to  Monna Manhas
January 6, 2017 7:52 am

Thank you Monna, my scriptural knowledge needs reviewing!

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 7:16 am

That would be Joseph, Moses got the Isrealites out of Egypt.
Sheesh, quit embarrassing yourself.

Reply to  MarkW
January 6, 2017 7:53 am

You may have missed the principle Mark irrespective of my poor recollection of Biblical names and timelines.

Reply to  MarkW
January 6, 2017 8:29 am

It just amuses me how many issues you are ignorant in.

Reply to  MarkW
January 6, 2017 11:52 am

“He who judges without mercy will be mercilessly judged”

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 7:32 am

Point well taken! Wasn’t Moses though, it was a family ancestor named Joseph. Moses’ problem was a new king that “knew not Joseph.” That guy should have listened to Moses–he lost a lot of his army in a flooding event.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 8:01 am

From the time of his birth Moses’ life was in danger from the pharaohs. After Moses killed an Egyptian task master, he had to flee for his life, only to return 40 years later and demand, “Let my people go!”

Janice Moore
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 8:12 am

Also, Mr. Phillips, your point about the drought-rain cycle is very good.
You have, however, apparently read some revisionist history about the drought of Egypt and all of the surrounding region of Joseph the Hebrew’s day. Someone has put her or his own gloss onto the historical record you’ve read.
Here is what the record says:
Pharaoh had a dream. (Genesis 41:1) The meaning of the dream was: Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. … The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. (Genesis 41:29-31)
No water reservoirs were built. The abundance was stored in the form of grain. (Genesis 41:48, 49) Apparently, they had wells for drinking water, but river-fed/rainfall supplied irrigation stopped.
If it bothers you that this record is found in the Hebrew holy scriptures (which, btw, contain much history, as well as religion), you can find records about “Imhotep” (Joseph) in the gentile Egyptians’ records.

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 7, 2017 11:14 am

Imhotep lived 1500 to 2000 years before the biblical character “Joseph”, if such a person ever actually existed, which is doubtful. There is no sign of him in Egyptian records, so if he existed, his dates can’t be nailed down, but it is impossible for him to have lived as long ago as Imhotep.
Before about 800 BC, the OT is myth and legend, not history. After that, parts of it are more or less historical, albeit with spin and some fiction thrown in, and can be checked against ancient archives and archaeology.
Some sign of Semitic tribes in the Nile Delta have been found at about the right time for Exodus, and a stele mentioning what some have interpreted as “Israel” (the northern Hebrew kingdom) from c. 1200 BC. That’s it for extant records and archaeology.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 4:33 pm

I think there is a strong probability that this is the beginning of a cool trend setting in, one that may turn into a cold trend before the pattern switches back to warm.

January 6, 2017 6:14 am

Good God! The PRECIPITATION FORECAST displays values greater than 1 in gradations of yellow and red! What a glaringly blatant push for global warming.

Reply to  Katherine
January 6, 2017 6:39 am

It is ‘understandable’ to use red colour for high temperatures. For precipitations blue colour would be more appropriate.
Red Color
Associated with energy, war, danger. Enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. Irritates physical reaction
Blue Colour
Strong blue colour stimulate clear thought. Light blue calms the mind and improves concentration. Also mentally calming.

January 6, 2017 6:30 am

“Unfortunately, California’s outdated reservoir system will likely not capture but a fraction of that water for later use.”
Unfortunately, California’s screwed up by bureaucrats reservoir system will not capture but a fraction of that water for later use,but the imported delta smelt will be happy. Screw the people. You get what you vote for.

Reply to  Justthinkin
January 6, 2017 7:55 am

“You get what you vote for.”
Thats what I keep telling people who are worried about losing healthcare and what Mr.Trump will do while in office.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 8:22 am

People who are worried about losing “healthcare” because Trump was elected are simply buying into Democrat (or perhaps, merely pro-government medicine) propaganda.
1. Healthcare has suffered since (and because of — given the lack of funding for the mandates, e.g., $500 billion taken from Medicare, impinging on its services and also the unfunded mandates on healthcare providers across the board) the Democrats (not one Republican in the House voted for Obamacare. Not one.) forced Obamacare down the throats of America.
2. Government-run medicine has been the subject of many real-life experiments (see Cuba, see Sweden, see Canada, and on and on) which provide much data strongly indicating that private insurance-based medicine is MUCH higher in quality (and availability).
And further, why are you talking about government-run healthcare on a thread about WATER MANAGEMENT??

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 8:30 am

It really fascinates mew how socialists assume that unless government provides something, it just isn’t available.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 9:31 am

MarkW, we need government to provide the rules. It does not need to pay the health care, but it needs to enforce some rules.
As a child of a Nordic welfare society, I don’t see an extensive public health care a threat. But. It certainly has some downsides, but not necessarily the ones you are afraid of.
In practice, I don’t much use the public service, because my employer has sold my soul to a private company.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 1:34 pm

What works in Norway with it’s mono-cultural society, can’t work elsewhere.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
January 6, 2017 1:37 pm

Hugs, I counter your Norway with the VA.

David A
Reply to  Justthinkin
January 6, 2017 8:37 am

All major resivours but Melonius will likely be close to full this year. New Melonius is often used to feed the delta.
Calif must however be cautious, not lose flood control.

Reply to  Justthinkin
January 6, 2017 8:43 am

Our Governor Moonbat even scolded Californians for using much more water than projected 20 years ago…….without any sense of irony……………..after basically saying the doors were open to 10 million illegals.

January 6, 2017 6:33 am

Hey Everybody!!! Guess what? This is just normal California weather. We have not been in a drought and there is no such thing as normal rainfall. The word drought implies something abnormal in the rainfall patterns and such is far from the case.
All we have, here and everywhere, are averages of rainfall which include years with little rain, like 1976-1977, but also include the bonus rains of 1996-1997. Those averages also include last year’s above average rainfall (which you never heard about) and what looks like a far above average rainfall this year.
Sorry for the buzz kill folks, but this is just normal California weather.

Darrell Demick
Reply to  McComberBoy
January 6, 2017 6:42 am

And I second that!!! As a resident from the Great White North (okay, western Canada, …. , okay, Alberta, Canada), we always laugh, especially in the winter, at the “average” temperature for any given day. With “Alaskan Clippers” (they are known as “Alberta Clippers” in Texas) that can drop the temperature to – 40 C, and with Chinooks that can raise the temperature to + 20 C, yes, you get an “average” of -10 C …..
But that is the normal range for temperature in the winter in this part of the world. Also known as weather.
And hey, the newly imposed “Carbon Tax” appears to be working! Since its inception on January 1, 2017, we have had below average temperatures in Alberta!!! Bloody amazing that the plan could work that quickly!!!!
Oh wait, ….. , it is just weather ……

John M. Ware
Reply to  McComberBoy
January 6, 2017 8:09 am

I like to point out that “normal” as a term is misapplied to weather or climate. There are means and averages in weather and climate, but no norms. Norms are what something is supposed to be. Normal human body temperature is 98.6 F, and substantial departures from that norm are dangerous. Normal eyesight is often characterized as 20/20. Weather doesn’t have norms.
Tomorrow we in central Virginia are told to expect 4-8″ of snow, with temps dropping to single digits F at night and not reaching freezing again until Tuesday at the earliest. Is that abnormal? No–it’s January, which is when we expect occasional rushes of cold air, with precipitation if there is enough moisture. Yes, the period will be colder than average; but departures from average (in both directions) happen all the time. As for California rain and snow: It fluctuates. That’s what it’s doing now. It’s OK. It’s not Climate Change, it sure as shooting isn’t Global Warming–it’s weather. Wise people get used to it and use the wet times to prepare for the dry times (check the example of Joseph and the Pharaoh’s dreams). If California hasn’t prepared, they’ve brought their problems on themselves.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  John M. Ware
January 6, 2017 10:34 am

Average temps should NOT be given as a single figure. That is just not how to report something that normally moves in a range. For weather there is a ‘confined range’. This could be given on a ’50 year basis’. This is very reasonable.
So if the normal range over a particular 50 year period, for example the most recent 50 years, might be for the second week of January, -5 C ±6 degrees, two Sigma, meaning 6 degrees up or down covers what happens with 90% confidence. Thus ‘Average temperature’ for the second week of January is the range of -11 to +1 C.’
When the CBC reports the temperature, they delight in saying “3 degrees above normal” when in fact it is well within the range of ‘normal’ whether that be for a standard deviation of Sigma one or two. They should say, ‘which is well within the normal range for this date.’
The word ‘average’ has no place in such a report. The normal range has meaning, the average does not.

Reply to  John M. Ware
January 6, 2017 11:02 am

I might venture to say that when “norms” are referred to in weather it is shorthand for “within normal ranges predicted by previous trends”.
That would mean on a winter day that we should expect to be cold but is indeed quite warm will be called abnormal. Of course that expected range is much larger than alarmist would have us believe.

David A
Reply to  McComberBoy
January 6, 2017 8:37 am


January 6, 2017 6:40 am

Antiquated California reservoir system. They are in the process of building several, perhaps half a dozen “antiquated” pumped storage units for the electricty that wind and solar produces that can’t be used but must be stored – at a cost, I recall, of over $2 billion per storage facility. Are located up in the mountains, far from the ultimate customer. Can produce about a gigawatt of power for 6 to 8 hours or so, as I recall, before all the water runs out. Losses that are incurred in storing the power in these facilities was given as 25% just for the storage and retrieval costs, not counting transmission losses, which are not trivial
$2 billion per facility – that would pay for a gigawatt molten salt nuclear power plant that would have 100% capacity, 24/7, not just 6 or 8 hours per day and doesn’t require any storage capacity at all, and can be located within the city limits of Los Angeles, losses due to transmission to homes – practically nil. Transmission line costs – very little or no cost compared to what is required for those wind mills and solar panels, spread all over creation. Fuel costs : nil. Operational costs – very low.
Environmental impact – practically nothing compared to the renewable units – especially wind turbines, which require enormous amounts of acreage.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  arthur4563
January 6, 2017 10:36 am

Well said and I support your numbers.
What about pumping water up the Hoover Dam?

Reply to  arthur4563
January 6, 2017 12:03 pm

Provided they are allowed to build the transmission lines from those facilities. Odds are the “environmentalists” will go to court over the power lines.

January 6, 2017 6:41 am

When I first moved to New Jersey, they were in third consecutive year of drought which was being blamed on climate change (and I believed them). A year after I moved in, we had the remnants of a hurricane pass through that corrected the drought almost over night. After the water basin return to normal, my property was never dry — they had to build trenches around the house just to keep the water out.
After that, I learned that three year droughts are common in New Jersey. The more recent one had been nothing on the 1929-1932 drought.
The Princeton professor who would speak on the news all of the time linking climate change to drought was lying through his teeth.

January 6, 2017 6:44 am

“Forecasters say this will exceed stream and river flood levels last seen in 2005.”
The sunspot cycle was in the exact same position in 2005 as it is now. Coincidence?

Reply to  RH
January 6, 2017 9:33 am


Reply to  RH
January 6, 2017 4:52 pm

That fits right in with the long term pattern. There is a flood pattern where the most likely point of occurrence is at or close to the solar minimum. Examples are 1996/97, 1964/65, 1955/56, and 1946/47. Those were all PNW flood winters. In 2014 I made a forecast that this winter would be a likely candidate for the next PNW flood. Twice over the last 3 months initial conditions set up in the Pacific where a system could have produced heavy rains centered on Oregon, but wind conditions changed to dissipate the concentrated flow.
When I made my prediction in 2014, I stated at the time that the winter of 2016/17 was my first choice over the winter of 2017/18. In terms of where the solar minimum should end up, the winter of 2017/18 is a better fit for the anticipated arrival of the minimum. In either case, looking back at the history of past PNW flood winters shows that the year/s prior to having a flood are always above average rainfall years. Last winter was above average as is this current winters rainfall so far. There is still several months where the right conditions may set up to strike the coast.

Don B
January 6, 2017 7:02 am

In 1861, following 20 years of drought, California had 6 weeks of flooding rain. Los Angeles got 66″ of rain.
The whole article is interesting, fascinating:
“In 1861, farmers and ranchers were praying for rain after two exceptionally dry decades. In December their prayers were answered with a vengeance, as a series of monstrous Pacific storms slammed—one after another—into the West coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. The storms produced the most violent flooding residents had ever seen, before or since.
“Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. Large brown lakes formed on the normally dry plains between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, even covering vast areas of the Mojave Desert. In and around Anaheim, , flooding of the Santa Ana River created an inland sea four feet deep, stretching up to four miles from the river and lasting four weeks.”

Ernest Bush
Reply to  Don B
January 6, 2017 8:47 am

It was worse than that inland. Try a description of an inland sea 300 miles long by 20 miles wide around Sacramento. The legislature had to be relocated to San Francisco for over a year. In some places people were living on the second floor of homes going in and out of the windows as needed. A map I saw suggests that you might have been able to reach the Bay Area by boat.

Reply to  Ernest Bush
January 6, 2017 4:58 pm

The Sacramento River is navigable from the SF Bay to Sacramento.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Don B
January 6, 2017 9:01 am

And the story goes that Leland Stanford had to row a boat to his own inauguration in Sacramento.

Ken Chapman
Reply to  Don B
January 6, 2017 1:22 pm

One of my tasks at the civil engineering firm was to update the “Old Timer’s Rainfall Chart” maintained by R.B. Lewis. The flood you mention was in the notations as having rained for 60 consecutive days in Ventura. The Ventura River flowed from bank to bank which now includes the heavily populated North Ventura Avenue. The old mission aqueduct was destroyed in the flood. The drought conditions today are very similar to that prior to the winter of 1861. With “Moonbeam’s” policy towards destroying a century’s worth of flood control measures, anything close to 1861 would be an unthinkable disaster.
The worst in my lifetime was the storm of 1943(?) and that of 1969.

January 6, 2017 7:19 am

So Moonbeam gets Federal money (debt) for flooding, drought, earthquakes, and cracked ice in Antarctica. You would think they could afford safety inspections of warehouses in his former neighborhood.

January 6, 2017 8:09 am

With the California state landmass covering as many latitudinal degrees and elevations as it does, there should be little wonder as to its wide diversity of weather events.

January 6, 2017 8:09 am

I live in the middle of Calaveras County and have had a Davis weather station for 13 years. The average yearly rainfall over that time is 30.80″. The wettest year was 2005/2006 with 41.25″. So far this season I have 24.34″ or 79% of an average year. (The rainfall year is July 1 – June 30.) Looks like this week we’ll easily blow through 100%. It seems unlikely that we won’t exceed 2005/2006. Next stop is the 200+% received in the 1982/83 season.

Reply to  Chuck
January 6, 2017 10:30 am

Ahhh, Calaveras County, one of the best places on the planet. Murphys, Arnold, Big Trees, jumping frogs, Etc. Not to mention some of the best wineries (& wines) in the world. Ironstone is my favorite. But I’m OT. So, back to the subject at hand. I remember that winter of 82/83 clearly as we got stuck up in the mountains for a week due to a Pineapple Express dropping about 4 feet snow on us in a day or so. And as I’m sure Chuck will remember, after that winter, CA had a drought, at least in name. Than kind of average till the big slosh in 95. For a good review, go to:

Ken Mitchell
January 6, 2017 8:16 am

Living here near Sacramento, CA, I’m unimpressed by the hysterical, hyperbolic descriptions of the storms in the local radio news. Yes, we occasionally get heavy rain. My back yard floods in every big rainstorm, but since I dug a trench through my side yard in 1986, I haven’t needed to worry much about actual flooding affecting the house.
It’s much like the children’s song about the Itsy Bitsy Spider who repeatedly built his web in the downspout; if you live near the Sacramento, American or Cosumnes Rivers, you probably should elevate your house to prevent flooding. Otherwise, you’ll be OK.

Reply to  Ken Mitchell
January 6, 2017 9:40 am

Hint. They are fake news.

January 6, 2017 8:56 am

As I recall, almost everyone’s winter forecast called for a relatively dry and warm winter for the Pacific Northwest and California. It has been anything but that so far. Isn’t this unusually wet for an ENSO Neutral winter? I am thinking the culprit is the unexpected colder than average temperatures in the North Pacific, but I am unsure how that works? Any thoughts out there?

Steve Fraser
Reply to  jclarke341
January 6, 2017 9:06 am

The track of Pacific low pressure systems is farther South than last year. The winds are scooping up moisture from the lower latitudes.

Reply to  Steve Fraser
January 6, 2017 10:30 am

Yes, but why? The track and frequency of the storms is more typical of strong El Nino years. It’s almost as if the ‘Arctic’ has moved south, into Siberia and the north Pacific, creating a similar temperatures gradient over the rest of the Pacific to a strong El Nino Winter. On the other side of the continent, the persistent forecast of a negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the resultant blocking over Greenland and the Canadian Maritimes, hasn’t happened yet, although the models keep trying to predict it.

Stewart Pid
Reply to  jclarke341
January 7, 2017 7:51 am

Clarke a rex block has formed with a high in Alaska and a low off the left coast. Rex blocks tend to be stationary once set up and so this pattern should stick around …. until its gone 😉

Mike Maguire
January 6, 2017 10:37 am

California Extreme Precipitation Symposium

Reply to  Mike Maguire
January 6, 2017 11:09 am

Irony abounds. “There’s no way ought!” of the California drought.
So warming climate will bring more extreme precipitation, and more extreme and persistent droughts. Got it.

January 6, 2017 10:50 am

“Unfortunately, California’s outdated reservoir system will likely not capture but a fraction of that water for later use.”
Perhaps the most important reservoir in the system is the “Frozen Reservoir” which is the snowpack above 8000 feet. It takes a very warm storm indeed to clobber the highest elevations. The good news is that the warm phase of this next system will only last a couple of days, so only a fraction of the heavy accumulation up top we got earlier this week will be washed away. The dangerous runoff should mostly be from lower the slopes.

January 6, 2017 11:30 am

Forecast 5 day NCEP precipitation total for Central Sierra- 16″
Forecast 7 day NCEP precipitation total for Central Sierra- 27″
These are usually pretty accurate.

January 6, 2017 11:51 am

Why can’t we go back to the much more pleasing term Pineapple Express?

Reply to  Rhee
January 6, 2017 1:29 pm

Not all atmospheric rivers are Pineapple Expresses. The one earlier this week had considerable cold air fed into it from a low centered near Alaska. The classic P.E. is almost entirely warm air from near Hawaii, and produces rain at unusually high elevations. Even the event predicted for this weekend will not be warm enough to rain much above 8000 feet ASL (considered the base of the the snow pack) in the Sierra Nevada.

January 6, 2017 11:53 am

What the hell makes a 1 in 10 year event newsworthy?
This is a total waste of time, effort, newsprint, and electrons.
Could some one get a life?
I spent a lot of time in the ’80s and ’90s and ’00s trying to convince the egomaniacs in Sac that if they REALLY wanted to help the citizens, they would build some dams and a lot of reservoirs.
Currently, some totally unimportant fish are more important that the people. The politicians attacked the farmers for their water usage (see dead areas of the Central Valley), but have NEVER done anything about industry. Their idea of solving the water problem is to only shower once a week and don’t flush a toilet unit the smell it too much. Even during the “every 5-10 year mega-drought,” Hollywood was pretty much untouched–they had their megalawns and pools.
I am so glad not to live in CA any more.

January 6, 2017 12:35 pm

It rains, and they tell you “due to high rain levels, there is large increase in brush and high fire danger in the forests.” Next year, due to lower rain levels, “due to extreme dry brush, there is high fire danger in the forests.”
They NEVER clean out the brush, they just close public lands.
This has been an every year occurrence since at least the ’60s.
Every year, it is extreme danger.

January 6, 2017 12:35 pm

Wasn’t Von Braun’s motto: I aim for the stars and hit London?

January 6, 2017 1:21 pm

I think the main reason the California Reservoir system won’t catch too much of this rainfall is not because it is outdated, but rather because it is already at 97% of it’s average storage capacity. It seems California defines drought politically, not practically. Until every region gets every inch of rain we “lost,” they will keep us in “drought” to exercise maximum control. The fact is, the drought broke last year.

Reply to  Henry Matusek
January 6, 2017 1:37 pm

I always though “drought” was a reflection of soil moisture content, not how much water is in reservoirs. After all, reservoirs can be drained intentionally, for whatever reason, even when the watershed and region are enjoying normal meteorological conditions, and local flora are not suffering from dry conditions. The Dust Bowl was not a drought because reservoirs were empty, it was because crops were failing and billions of tons of topsoil were blowing away, for many years.

January 6, 2017 2:28 pm

You missed “on steroids”!

January 6, 2017 2:33 pm

This is really a matter of weather and not climate change. I expect that this weather event will finally fill our reservoirs here in California. Last year we had above average rainfall but it was not enough to fill our reservoirs. But I am still saving what I can of water flowing from my roof for later use in watering my garden. We all have to do our part in this time of drought.

Don E
January 7, 2017 9:33 am

It is Jerry Brown’s fault. The last time he was Governor we had a severe drought followed by flood. I am not going to vote for him again in 2050 for his third term.

January 7, 2017 10:28 am

I’m here in the Mother Lode at 1,200′ between Sac-Town and Tahoe and so far the mega rain hasn’t shown.
About a tenth of an inch of rain since Friday AM. Little less than a 3rd of an inch a bit north, east of Rattlesnake Bar.
Good site for checking recent rainfall amounts in this area:

January 7, 2017 2:38 pm

Here you go Anthony, this link provides the latest GFS direct grid interpolated data dump for a specified airport. I ran it for KOVE.
The 12Z run for 2017 Jan 7 shows 9.76″ out to 180 hours and another 4.9″ for 180-384 hours.
That’s a total of 14.66″ out to 384 hours. Looks like serious flooding. Take care.

Reply to  oz4caster
January 7, 2017 7:54 pm

Watch the USGS Yuba River gauge near Marysville here:

January 7, 2017 3:25 pm

Unfortunately, California’s outdated reservoir system will likely not capture but a fraction of that water for later use.
This is almost gross negligence IMO.
What idiots we have running this state.

January 8, 2017 12:02 pm

These storms reveal the influence of sea temperatures on our terrestrial temperature data sets. This is a case of the dog wagging the tail.

January 8, 2017 1:22 pm

The flood potential for California in this winter is now back full steam. Look at this new stream of 43kg/m2 TPW flow that just started up over night to add to the already high moisture level which will enter through California and Southern Oregon. …,28.10,497/loc=-131.966,24.258

Reply to  goldminor
January 8, 2017 4:50 pm

The Truckee River in Reno is an hour or so from official flood stage at 11.0 feet on the gauge. I just drove by and looked before dark, it’s an angry river, with lots of large dead fall tree trunks racing by.

Reply to  brians356
January 9, 2017 12:06 pm

The Truckee River in Reno crested at only ~1.3 feet over flood stage. And this morning fresh snow in the adjacent foothills. Looking at the snowpack figures for the Tahoe Basin, just before this warm storm and flooding, the Tahoe Basin stood at 134% normal snow water equivalent (SWE) for the date, and this morning it’s still 131%. Apparently the snow level didn’t rise as high as predicted (some observers had feared 10,000 feet) and the flooding in Reno was not as severe as feared. Also, the Sierra just north of Tahoe and Reno was at 138% SWE before this storm, and is now at 158%. My fear was that much of our snowpack would be washed away, but apparently much of the rain was retained in the snowpack, and fresh snow fell early this morning as colder air invaded the atmospheric river. We got lucky.

January 8, 2017 5:20 pm

Dams? Levees? Reservoirs?
Too bad that CA never clears out dead brush or trees and just lets it build up.
This is the unprecedented once every 10 years storm that signals the end of whatever civilization CA thinks they have.

Reply to  noylj2014noylj
January 9, 2017 12:07 pm

To Mr. Watts : whatever happened to your weather forcast?
[To what weather forecast(s) do you refer???? .mod]

Johann Wundersamer
January 10, 2017 7:45 am

Seen ‘the pinapple express’ first-time on TV on the continent;
same time we had snow and ice on roads and rooftops.
Nonetheless best 2017 !

January 10, 2017 11:30 am

Here’s the USGS river gauge site for the Russian River near Guerneville, CA, showing still above flood stage (32 feet). (Guerneville was blessed yesterday by remote reportage from TWC “Weather Underground” host Mike Bettes).

January 13, 2017 3:00 am

1 in 10? Didn’t they have to open the flood gates in northern CA last year? What was that?

January 13, 2017 3:02 am
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