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Warm Calif. Storm Brings Flood Risk to North State

"It depends on how much snow melt we get because that's a whole other player in this. The rain is going to be impressive, but it just depends on how warm these systems are and how much snowmelt we get."

Snowing in Southern California
Yucaipa, CA - February 23: People snowboard and sled down a hill as they revel in the rare sight of falling snow in Southern California at Yucaipa Community Park in Yucaipa Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. The National Weather Service issued its first-ever blizzard warning for the San Bernardino County mountains, following a similar warning for Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Southern California has only gotten a taste of the powerful winter storm system that forecasters say will bring an extended period of cold temperatures, high winds and snow, prompting the region's first blizzard warning on record. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Allen J. Schaben/TNS
(TNS) - A warm winter storm rolling through the north valley is forecast to bring its heaviest precipitation today with major risks of flooding and more than 100 inches of snow estimated in many parts of the Sierra Nevada.

The trend of warm rain and high snow levels is expected to continue in another storm to arrive Monday and last through Wednesday.

Karl Swanberg, forecaster for National Weather Service Sacramento said the storm has great potential for minor flooding in rivers and streams through the whole period of storms.

"It depends on how much snow melt we get because that's a whole other player in this. The rain is going to be impressive, but it just depends on how warm these systems are and how much snowmelt we get," Swanberg said. "I would say most of the rivers are going to be near bank-full."

Swanberg said precipitation estimates Thursday through Sunday morning is about 2-2.5 inches in Chico, 2 inches in Red Bluff, 4 inches in Paradise and 5 inches in Magalia.

A 10-30% chance of isolated thunderstorms is forecast with more than 60% chance of winds above 40 mph, according to a weather report.

Snow levels this morning were forecast at 6,000-8,500 feet lowering to 4,500-6,500 feet Saturday and Sunday. Snowpack above 4,000 feet is expected to absorb most of the heavy rainfall.

Through Sunday, about 80-100 inches of snow is forecast at Lassen Volcanic National Park and Interstate 5 into Oregon may see 18-24 inches, according to the National Weather Service. In the Sierra Nevada, the Carson, Ebbetts, Sonora and Tioga Passes are forecast to see more than 100 inches of snow.

For the storm Monday through Wednesday, Swanberg said an additional 2.5 inches of rain is estimated in Chico, 2 inches in Red Bluff, 6.5 inches in Paradises and 7 inches in Magalia.

Monday night into Tuesday, snow levels are forecast to begin at 5,000-7,000 feet and lower to 4,500-6,500 feet.

Emergency response

An emergency proclamation, issued March 2, was ratified by Butte County supervisors during a special meeting Thursday, said Josh Jimerfield, deputy administrative officer for the Butte County Office of Emergency Management.

The county was also officially added to Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide emergency declaration on March 8, he said.

The county is advising residents to prepare for potential snow-ins and to stock up on batteries, food, water and fuel for generators, Jimmerfield said.

An assistance hotline has been established by the county for people who are stuck in the snow and who need other assistance related to the storm.

The county's assistance hotline may be reached at 552-3233 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Caltrans announced Thursday it has positioned equipment and resources to respond to emergencies that may be caused by the storm.

Oroville Mayor David Pittman said city staff is taking action in case of high water levels and has notified downtown business owners of flood risk. Pittman said there are no major concerns predicted so far with water released from the Oroville Dam.

Issues for immediate infrastructure needs in Chico may be reported from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the Chico Public Works Department at 894-4200 and after 5 p.m. the Chico Police Department at 897-4900.

©2023 Chico Enterprise-Record, Calif. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.