Santa Cruz County, other parts of California in for ‘quick shot of rain’ before drier weather arrives

The beach at Rio Del Mar following early January storms
After another, if lighter, round of rain moves through Santa Cruz County on Wednesday night, drier days are ahead.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A series of atmospheric river storms that dropped record-breaking rain and unleashed chaos across California will end with a whimper this week.

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A series of atmospheric river storms that dropped record-breaking rain and unleashed chaos across California will end with a whimper this week, as a weak storm will give way to what’s expected to be a prolonged drier period.

The latest system, a drizzler compared with the powerful deluges that have hammered the state for the better part of a month, will move into the greater San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service.

It’s expected to “bring a quick shot of rain,” with up to half an inch possible in higher-elevation areas including the Santa Cruz Mountains, said Dalton Behringer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Monterey.

A forecast released by the office showed more modest totals, largely between 0.1 and 0.2 inches, expected across the region.

In Soquel Village, Andrew Gaul stacks sandbags for his tenants between storms Jan. 2.


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“Rain should be totally out of the picture by sunrise tomorrow morning,” Behringer said Wednesday.

He characterized the latest storm as “an entirely new system ... not really of atmospheric river origin like these past events have been.”

The story is much the same across the thoroughly soaked state. In the Central Valley, “we have some overnight rain tonight, but it’s [only] going to be a little bit — nothing earth-shattering,” said JP Kalb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

“We are looking at less than a tenth of an inch in most places,” he said Wednesday morning.

The impacts will be lesser, and likely nonexistent, the farther south you go. San Luis Obispo County could see some sprinkles, and there’s a chance of light rain Thursday in the Inland Empire, but forecasts show scant chances of the wet stuff this week in the greater Los Angeles area.

“We have a weak system that is trying to drop southward into the southern part of the state, but it does not look like it’s going to make it to Los Angeles,” said David Sweet, a weather service meteorologist in Oxnard.

California as a whole seems set for a much-needed reprieve from the rain — with drier weather settling across the state for the next week or so after this last storm exits.

A less-saturated forecast will likely be welcome news in weather-walloped parts of the state still trying to dig out from the destruction wrought by the spate of heavy storms.

Mudslides in Niles Canyon have snarled operations on the Altamont Corridor Express — a commuter rail service that runs from Stockton to San Jose. One such slide blocked the railroad tracks Tuesday morning, prompting officials to evacuate 225 people, according to the Alameda County Fire Department.

And Santa Barbara County officials this week announced that Goleta Beach Park would be closed because of “emergency beach nourishment operations,” which include moving sediment from basins below the burn areas of the Cave and Thomas fires to the beach.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, said that precipitation over the next two-plus weeks “is likely to be below average for most/all” of California.

“This will give the state a needed opportunity to dry out, for rivers to recede, and for folks in the mountains to dig out from feet of snow,” he wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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