LOS ANGELES: Another big storm was headed for California on Thursday, the latest in a winter parade that has already brought near-record snowfall and heavy rains.
Over the coming days, two atmospheric rivers – moisture-laden weather systems chugging in from the Pacific – were expected to dump heavy snow on already-buried mountain ranges, and bring torrential rain to lower elevations.
Some areas could see as much as seven inches (18 centimetres) of rain, meteorologists said, with the risk of flooding and mudslides in central and northern parts of the state.
Forecasters said the rain could fall in areas that had previously seen a lot of snow, which could cause sudden runoff that rivers and water courses might struggle to contain.
“A much wetter and warmer pattern is expected, especially Thursday night into Saturday where heavy rain is anticipated,” meteorologist Bianca Feldkircher said in a video posted to Twitter.
“This in addition to some snow melts, especially in those elevations below 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) will lead to flooding and rises on rivers.”
Southern parts of the state will not escape the heavy weather, although Los Angeles and its immediate surroundings were less likely to be deluged.
But the National Weather Service in San Diego warned of “an incoming rain-maker” on Friday, which could affect mountainous areas that have seen heavy snowfall in recent weeks.
“There could be some significant impacts in the #SanBernardino Mountains due to rain falling on existing snowpack,” NWS San Diego tweeted.
“The deep snowpack will be able to absorb the rain, but the ploughed roads and driveways could have some water flowing over them.
“Additionally, the rain will add additional weight to the snowpack, and could further impact structures. Clear those roofs of snow if you can!”
Mountain communities in San Bernardino are still digging out from the last round of storms, with isolated settlements having been cut off for long stretches.
Three people were found dead in their homes when San Bernardino County Sheriff officers performed welfare checks, force spokesman Mara Rodriguez was quoted as saying by The Los Angeles Times.
People in the town had complained they were unable to get out and get medication, or even food after heavy snow blocked roads.
Some places had received as much as 100 inches (2.5 meters) of snow.
In Oregon, where country roads have been blocked by heavy snow, Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue said they had responded to a plea for help from a motorist who got trapped.
“His vehicle became stuck in the snow and he did not have cell service to call for help (cell reception is very limited in many forested areas of Lane County),” they said on Facebook.
The driver wisely stayed with his vehicle, and then got ingenious.
“The man had a drone with him and attached his cell phone to the drone. He then typed a text message to a trusted person describing his situation and exact location hit send and launched the drone several hundred feet into the air.
“The increased elevation allowed his phone to connect to a tower and send the message, which resulted in our teams being deployed and assisting him out of his situation.”