Fierce, wet storm on the way |

Fierce, wet storm on the way

(AP Photo/NOAA)This morning's satellite image for Thursday, Dec. 12, 2002, shows clouds associated with a storm moving through the Pacific Northwest. Rain is falling in Washington. High and midlevel clouds blanket the Rockies.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Batten down the hatches – a wild, wet and windy storm is expected to hit the Sierra foothills this weekend. Winds gusting up to 50 miles an hour and at least six inches of rain are predicted starting Friday afternoon.

“We’re going to get rain like we never saw before,” said meteorologist Steve Martinez of in Roseville.

What is driving the storm is moisture from the remnants of Typhoon Pongsona that hit Guam last weekend merging with a low-pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska, said Martinez.

“The storm will come out of the west southwest, resulting in what we call orographic lift in the foothills that triggers heavy rainfall,” he said. “That means if you thought it rained in November, this is really going to be something else.”

That storm on Nov. 7 and 8 dumped 2 to 4 inches and more of rain across Nevada County, and widespread power outages were caused by high winds and downed trees and power lines.

Martinez said the rains should begin Friday afternoon “so you’ll probably have a wet Cornish Christmas.” The storm is expected to intensify during the day Saturday, accompanied by sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles an hour. “But wind gusts could be much higher – perhaps exceeding 50 miles an hour,” he said.

Rainfall amounts through Sunday night for the foothills should exceed six inches, Martinez predicted, with up to 10 inches possible in some areas. He said that in the foothills, temperatures will remain moderate, with snow levels at about 6,500 to 7,000 feet in the area, and 2 to 4 feet of accumulation above 7,000. The snow line is expected to drop down to 5,000 feet by Sunday morning.

What western meteorologists call the “storm door” will remain open, Martinez said, so that scattered precipitation should continue on a daily basis through Friday of next week.

Martinez said the region was due for some rain. “Normally by now we should have had five or six decent rain events, and we haven’t.”

The National Weather Service in San Francisco, in a special weather statement Wednesday, said rainfall in North Bay regions could exceed 6 inches to 8 inches by the end of the weekend, and another system expected to move in Sunday night could cause flooding in Northern California rivers.

If you’re heading for the shore, be warned that high surf is expected along the coast from the Bay Area northward, with waves up to 18 feet.

”The biggest weather-related killer in California is surf, so we’re really cautioning everybody to stay back from the ocean,” National Weather Service meteorologist John Lovegrove said in Eureka. ”If you do feel the need to go down and watch the waves, keep one eye on the water and don’t take kids.”

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