Atmospheric River Unleashes Heavy Rain, Wind on Bay Area

What to Know

  • Flash flood watch in effect between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Thursday for much of the Bay Area

  • High wind warning in place between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Thursday for spots along the coast and in the hills above 1,000 feet

  • Wind advisory in effect between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Thursday for interior valleys across the Bay Area

Amid an already waterlogged winter, yet another storm system continued to clobber the Bay Area with widespread rain and gusty winds Tuesday.

The National Weather Service warned that the latest system, which is being tabbed as an atmospheric river, could cause flooding, downed trees, power outages and mudslides through Thursday.

An atmospheric river is defined as a slender band of moisture pulled from the tropics that eventually dumps “significant levels of rain and snow,” especially in locations across the West Coast, according to the weather service.

“While #AtmosphericRivers are beneficial and necessary for California’s water supply, too much water too quickly can cause problems,” the weather service tweeted.

What is an Atmospheric River?What is an Atmospheric River?

A flash flood watch has been issued through Thursday morning for much of the Bay Area, according to the weather service. Water levels in creeks, streams and rivers that routinely flood could rise rapidly. The deluge of rain expected to soak already saturated soil could also trigger rockslides, landslides and debris flows.

The weather service has also issued a high wind warning through 10 a.m. Thursday for locations along the coast and in the hills resting above 1,000 feet. Winds are predicted to blow between 25 and 35 mph, while gusts could peak around 60 mph. The weather service warned that scattered power outages should be expected.

A wind advisory has been called through Thursday at 10 a.m. for interior valleys located in the North Bay, East Bay and South Bay. Wind speeds could range between 20 and 35 mph, with gusts topping out around 45 mph.

By the time Thursday afternoon rolls around, locations in and around Santa Rosa and San Rafael could pick up as much as four inches of rain, according to the weather service. Napa, Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz are predicted to collect 2 to 3 inches of rainfall. San Francisco, Concord and Fairfield are slated to receive 1.5 to 2 inches. San Jose and Livermore are expected to tally 1 to 1.5 inches.

The wet weather is expected to taper off in time for the weekend, NBC Bay Area Meteorologist Kari Hall said. It appears that Saturday will stay dry, but scattered showers could return Sunday.

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