A ferocious storm is forecast to batter California with drenching rain, heavy snow, pounding surf and howling winds through Friday.
The National Weather Service said the barrage is “expected to be one of the strongest storms in terms of wind and rain” since storms in October 2009 and January 2008.
In Northern California, where the rain was expected to hit first, officials in San Francisco, Oakland and Marin County said schools would be closed Thursday because of expected heavy rain and winds.
Southern California saw dark clouds move in Wednesday afternoon. Los Angeles County officials closed a pair of main roads around Castaic Lake, a state recreation area in mountains north of Santa Clarita, in anticipation of mud flow.
A system fueled by the “Pineapple Express” is delivering a steady stream of moisture directly from Hawaii to the West Coast starting Wednesday. Meteorologists describe the Pineapple Express as a long, narrow plume that pipes moisture from the tropics into the western United States.
About 3-6 inches of rain is possible in parts of Northern California, including much of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, AccuWeather said. Some spots could see as much as 9 inches of rain.
The rainfall could overwhelm waterways and road drainage systems, possibly leading to flash floods.
In the Sacramento area, strong winds expected with the storm — gusts as high as 60 mph — could take down outdoor holiday decorations.
“I’m not putting any of it up until after the storm because even though it’s pretty durable, it will just blow over,” Sacramento resident Tim Adams said.
People were advised to take down their holiday lights, especially inflatable decorations that are not properly anchored.
Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, issued a warning that the storm will present a risk of flash flooding and debris slides, particularly in the northern and southern areas of the state that had wildfires this year.
“Burned areas are especially at risk for debris slides. Even regions that don’t experience regular seasonal flooding could see flash flooding during this intense storm system,” he said in a statement.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Doyle Rice