Dec 20, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Rain, snow to hit West Coast as drought continues

Picture of trees and fog
A major Pacific storm dumps snow in Yosemite Valley on Dec. 16. Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

Heavy rain and snow are forecasted this week to hit the West Coast, where states are enduring a heavy drought, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that the state is facing "its worst drought since the late 1800s." While the precipitation will help address it, it will not be enough to entirely fix it.

  • The mountain snow, which sticks around longer, is more likely to help than the rain.

What they're saying: "The snow melts and the runoff from the snowmelt is what a lot of reservoirs feed off going into the dry season for us," Sierra Littlefield, a meteorologist at the Weather Service in Sacramento, told the Post.

  • "Most of the precipitation that is beneficial for the water sources that’s useful to us in California comes during the rainy season. Typically by April 1st we see our deepest snowpack."

State of play: The National Weather Service said starting Tuesday, Northern California will experience on and off precipitation lasting until Sunday afternoon.

  • Parts of the Sierra Nevada may get up to 5 feet of snow, with 8 feet possible in higher elevations, per AP.
  • Forecasters have a warning for travelers hitting the road: "Holiday travelers should prepare for winter driving conditions by packing chains, warm winter clothes, and extra food and water," AP notes.
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