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Approaching storms may help lagging water year

Periods of rain, snow to continue this weekend, into next week.

Farm Press Staff

January 19, 2024

2 Min Read
Storm clouds
Storm clouds.Tim Hearden

The recent parade of storm clouds dousing the West will continue this weekend and into next week, likely helping California improve this season’s water storage after a slow start.

The next wave of precipitation is expected to arrive tonight (Jan. 19) and continue until Sunday, followed by another system late Sunday night through Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

The storms are expected to bring moderate rain to California’s Central Valley and high-elevation mountain snow, with isolated valley thunderstorms possible during the second storm.

The latest round comes as storms have picked up across the West in January. The Pacific Northwest has been deluged with ice and snow this week, causing an estimated 62,000 homes in Oregon to lose power, according to the New York Times. Three people in Portland were killed when a power line fell on a car on Jan. 17, the newspaper reported.

The weather caused the cancellation of a farm show – the Northwest Ag Show in Salem, Ore., which was set for Jan. 17-19. Organizers said the show will be rescheduled.

In California, continued storms will only help the snowpack, which was at 53% of normal statewide as of Jan. 18, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The agency’s first manual snow survey of the year on Jan. 2 found only 30% of average for its location near Lake Tahoe despite some storms in the last weeks of December. The next manual survey will be done Feb. 1.

The slow start to the current water year follows one of the largest snowpacks on record last season.

The federal Climate Prediction Center foresees above-average chances of precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California through the end of January.

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