El Nino-enhanced storms to soak northwestern US, bypass California next week
Storms from the Pacific Ocean will continue to roll onshore on the West Coast but will take aim farther north and will give Southern California a break from the relentless rain during the second week of January.
The pause in the heavy storms in the southwestern United States will allow streams to recede, the saturated ground to dry out and the mudslide danger to lower.
According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "The Pacific Ocean storm train is still very active and will depend on where the plume of storms takes aim in the coming weeks."
Starting this weekend, storms and the bulk of the rain and mountain snow will target areas from Oregon to Washington and British Columbia.
Cumulative rainfall spanning Jan. 8-14 will average 1-3 inches from coastal California, north of San Francisco to Seattle. Slightly higher amounts of rain can fall in the Olympic Range.
While the total rainfall for the coming week is not likely to be excessive or unusual in the Northwest, it follows very wet conditions from December. Rainfall and mountain snow in some areas were two to three times that of average in western Washington and Oregon. Nearly a foot of rain fell in Seattle with more than 15 inches falling in Portland, Oregon, during December 2015.
There will be the potential for locally heavy bursts of rain that can cause flash flooding and mudslides in the Northwest over the coming week.
Travel along Interstate 5 from northern California to Washington will be wet, as it typically is during January.
Snowfall over the Cascades will average 1-2 feet, with 6-12 inches possible for the northern Sierra Nevada during the second week of the month.
Slightly warmer air will push snow levels a bit higher up the slopes of the mountains on occasion through the middle of next week. The shifting temperatures will allow episodes of both rain and snow over the passes and could lead to a greater risk of avalanches in the Northwest.
"Some rain will still reach California on occasion, especially the northern half of the state," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. "However, the storms will bring much less rain and mountain snow to California, when compared to the first week of January."
Lower amounts and less frequent occurrences of rain will translate to fewer travel disruptions and much lower risk of dangerous and destructive mudslides.
The storms will be somewhat less frequent, when compared to recent weeks along the West coast. Instead of the storms hitting every day, a storm will move in approximately every other day.
With the storm track farther north, less intense wave action is likely along the Southern California coast over the next week.
The northward shift of the storms is not likely to represent the pattern for the rest of the winter, let alone January.
During the third week of January, the pattern may again change and allow a storm or two with rain and mountain snow to travel farther south.
According to AccuWeather Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, it could turn wet again over central and Southern California by the end of January.
The potential for flooding and damaging storms in central and Southern California remains a viable concern during February, Pastelok said.
The recent rainfall and additional rainfall in the weeks ahead will go a long way toward chipping away at the long-term drought.
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