An Atmospheric River, which is a feed of warm tropical moisture, is aiming for Central California, bringing soaking rain already north of the Kern County line Wednesday. That feed of moisture gets pushed south a little bit by a low pressure system moving onshore over the Pacific Northwest today, taking direct aim at the Kern River Valley.
While we're excited about the rain in this drought, we have the potential to get about three inches of rain in that region over the next 48 hours and that's too much of a good thing. We have seen big problems with less rain the last two weeks in areas of recent wildfire burn scars, with mudslides in the back terrain, debris flows, rockslides in the canyon and ash in the Kern River. Expect much of the same today.
The National Weather Service in Hanford hasn't issued a Flash Flood Watch, as the rain threat for the Kern River Valley hasn't met criteria level yet, but I expect one is needed and could be issued today. But be sure to purchase our 23ABC Storm Shield mobile and tablet app to stay up-to-date with storm watches and warnings for these storms. You'll be the first to get an alert if they are upgraded to warnings as they are issued: iTunes iOS - http://bit.ly/19GOkIc
& Google Play - http://bit.ly/1d83Vy4
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As for the snow, this is a very wet and relatively warm tropical feed of moisture, so snow levels will be very high. I think we have the chance to get some snow for Breckenridge and Alta Sierra tonight.
And there's still more rain on the way. While Friday looks dry but cloudy for everyone, the next system pushes another Atmospheric River onshore starting to our north on Saturday, keeping us cloudy but "warm" - with afternoon highs 10 degrees above average for this time of year. The rain will start for the Kern River Valley first Saturday afternoon, with rain likely on Sunday and again Monday. This warm moist air gives us a good soaking for everyone in the valley and mountains on Monday, which once again creates a scary situation for the Kern River Valley.