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Season's first significant storms to impact northern, central California; PNW to get steady rain.

Farm Press Staff

October 20, 2021

2 Min Read
The National Weather Service expects significant levels of precipitation to fall in northern and central California through Monday night, Oct. 25.National Weather Service

Autumn is marking its arrival on the West Coast this week, as the season's first significant storms will impact northern and central California and steady rain will spritz the Pacific Northwest.

The first in at least a trio of wet systems was expected to reach California shorelines on Tuesday night, Oct. 19, and make its way across Northern California today. The storm could produce up to 2 inches of snow above 6,000 feet while bringing high winds throughout the region, according to the National Weather Service.

Another round of rain and snow is expected Thursday, Oct. 21, and a stronger storm is set to hit the region Saturday night through Monday, the NWS predicts. Those systems could bring multiple inches of rain to valleys and foothills and up to 8 inches of snow at the highest elevations, according to the agency.

In the Pacific Northwest, daily rainfall is expected to persist in Portland and Seattle until at least the middle of next week. Winds of up to 40 miles per hour are possible in the Northwest, with potential gusts to 60 mph in Southern Oregon and Northern California, according to WeatherNation.

The pattern change began with unseasonably cool and windy weather throughout California last week, and a storm arriving Sunday night (Oct. 17) brought only traces of rain to valleys but produced snow to shut down highways over the Sierra Nevada's highest passes and require chains on Interstate 80 near Lake Tahoe, The Associated Press reported. A University of California snow lab at Donner Pass reported 10.3 inches of snow by Monday morning, according to the AP.

Eureka, on California's North Coast, recorded 0.73 inches of rain on Sunday, while Redding, Calif., received 0.27 inches of rain Sunday night and Monday, according to NWS.

The rain will provide welcome relief from the drought in the West, but could impact wildfire burn areas and complicate harvests in some areas. 

On Sept. 30, interior Northern California completed its driest water year on record, with some National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate sites observing all-time record low precipitation totals. Redding recorded only 14.24 inches of rain for the water year that began Oct. 1, 2020, far below its annual average of 33.52 inches. The Sacramento airport got only 6.61 inches for the entire year, well below its average of 18.14 inches.

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