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Weather & Science

California Braces for Its Next Deluge as Pacific Storms Line Up

  • Atmospheric river will bring heavy rain across state this week
  • San Francisco, Sacramento saw record rains on New Year’s Eve
Flood water inside a home in San Francisco on January 2.

Flood water inside a home in San Francisco on January 2.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

While California tries to clean up from floods and mudslides that killed at least one person over the weekend, the next in a series of atmospheric rivers is bearing down on the most populous US state for later this week.

A powerful stream of densely moist air flowing off the Pacific Ocean is forecast to bring 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 centimeters) of rain to a wide area from Eureka to San Francisco Wednesday into Thursday, with some isolated areas receiving as much as 8 inches, said William Churchill, a forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Center. These systems resemble large rivers across the sky and can carry as much water as the mouth of the Mississippi River to locations when they hit.