A massive storm described by forecasters to be the most powerful to hit the region in over a decade is expected to hit parts of Northern California by Saturday. According to a Los Angeles Times report, the storm could cause widespread flooding and epic snowfall across the region. According to current predictions, the massive California storm, the first in 2017, is expected to cause more than 12 inches of rain and up to 6 feet of snow in certain areas. To make this worse, forecasters also added that this would only be the first wave of the storm and that it would be followed by another even colder storm that would bring more heavy rains and snow to the region just two days after the first one passes. As of now, weather stations report wind gusts of over 50 mph.
Senior officials have confirmed that people living in the region are in a state of panic. In an interview local newspapers, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Hammitt is quoted saying;
“People are definitely in a state of panic right now. We’re getting a lot of calls asking if we’re going to be able to deal with everything. It’s the general pandemonium of not knowing what’s coming. We’re expecting heavy, heavy rain. It starts out as snow then turns to rain then turns to snow again. We’re concerned about the melt increasing waterways and all the lakes.”
According to Hammit, the current weather conditions reminded him of similar severe storms that happened back in 1997 and then in 2005. Following those storms, the runoff caused by the rains and snow flooded local rivers and creeks and caused widespread damage. The storm in 2005 reportedly caused damage worth over $300 million.
“We have streams, creeks, rivers. We have lakes and ponds. Anybody near a water source could be in jeopardy depending on the severity of the storm,” Hammit further warned.
Meanwhile, certain parts of the region have already confirmed that the rains have begun since Friday night and continued into Saturday morning. More rain is expected in the next few hours. The heaviest rainfall and snow is however expected to hit on Sunday. Two sinkholes have also been reported in ElDorado after rains wreaked havoc in the region earlier this week. Residents have filled more than 12,000 sandbags to prepare for the onslaught of the storm with an additional 20,000 sandbags still on their way.
The massive storm hitting California this weekend could cause a disaster https://t.co/fZBIuYlaLB— WIRED (@WIRED) January 7, 2017
While Northern California prepares for the storm, another smaller storm system has moved into Southern California. This storm has reportedly resulted in scattered showers across the region.
Zach Toby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, has described the storm as a once-in-a-decade event He also predicted that the storm could bring in continuous rainfall for 36 hours.
“It’s a once-in-10-year event. It’s the strongest storm we’ve seen in a long time, the kind of setup we look for to get significant flooding. It’s going to be like buckets of water for a fairly sustained period of time.”
Meanwhile, several places across the Bay Area, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast, and parts of the Sacramento Valley have been issued flash flood warnings.
Another area likely to be hit hard by the storm is South Lake Tahoe where Mayor Austin Sass urged residents to prepare for the storm. In a tweet sent out on Friday he said;
“If at all possible, get up on your roof and get off whatever snow you have on there because the moisture combined with the snow will be extremely heavy and we’re worried about the integrity of your roof structure.”
He also urged people to stay indoors on Sunday and Monday.
“When the snow comes mixed with the rain it’s going to be an absolute mess. So whatever you can do stay home and most importantly, stay safe,” he added.
While most people remain worried about the storm and the rainfall, there are several others who are glad that the rainfall would help combat the near six-year-long drought in California.
[Featured Image by Jeff Chiu/AP Images]