El Niño gave Sacramento its biggest rainstorm in more than a year Tuesday, overwhelming gutters and snarling traffic but putting another small dent in the drought.
Downtown Sacramento received 1.26 inches of rain in the 24-hour period ending at noon. That was the city’s heaviest 24-hour rainfall since the 2.1-inch deluge that fell Dec. 11, 2014, said the National Weather Service’s Karl Swanberg.
The region has seen more rain showers since about 1 p.m., and the National Weather Service forecasts continued precipitation until 4 p.m., with a chance of rain and thunderstorms after that time.
Snow also continued to fall Tuesday afternoon in the Sierra Nevada and forced chain requirements on mountain highways. On vehicles without four-wheel drive and snow tires, chains were required as of 3:15 p.m. on Highway 50 from Kyburz to Meyers; on Interstate 80 from one mile east of Baxter to the Donner Lake interchange; and on Highway 88 from Dew Drop to five miles west of Picketts Junction.
Earlier Tuesday, rain flooded freeway lanes, created large puddles around clogged storm drains and provided much-needed water for trees and pasture in Northern California.
The warm storm started around midnight in Sacramento and continued steadily through the night. Slick roads and standing water on freeways slowed motorists. A wreck on northbound Interstate 5 around 6 a.m. was slowing heavy traffic traveling into Sacramento.
At least two big rig crashes occurred as heavy rain fell before the sun came up. One rig crashed near Dillard Road on southbound Highway 99 about 1:15 a.m., causing the cab of the truck to burn. All lanes later were opened.
Another big rig crashed on Highway 50, east of Watt Avenue. All lanes have been opened.
On northbound Interstate 5, at 5:10 a.m., a car crashed into a guardrail just south of Pocket Road. And on the Capital City Freeway, near the E Street offramp, flooding at 5:30 a.m. was nearly causing vehicles to spin out.
As predicted by the National Weather Service, narrow bands of heavy rain along a storm front moved into Sacramento during the commute. A total of 0.36 of an inch of rainfall fell into the official Sacramento rainfall bucket between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.
A break in the wet and breezy weather is expected tonight. However, another storm system is poised to move into the Sacramento region Wednesday. Wednesday’s system could also bring a round of heavy precipitation.
Showery conditions are predicted for Thursday and Friday in Sacramento.
24-hour rainfall totals as of 8 a.m.:
Sacramento: 1.21 of an inch
Sacramento’s Executive Airport: 1.33
Elk Grove: 0.95
Rancho Cordova: 1.11
Prairie City Road, Folsom: 1.03
The detailed, 7-day forecast for the Sacramento region from the NWS:
Tuesday: Rain before 10am, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 10am. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 55. South wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Tuesday night: A 40 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 45. South wind around 9 mph. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Wednesday: Rain. High near 53. Breezy, with a southeast wind 18 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Wednesday night: Rain likely before 10pm, then a chance of showers after 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. Southeast wind 11 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Thursday: Showers likely, mainly after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 51. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Thursday night: A 50 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41.
Friday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54.
Friday night: A slight chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43.
Saturday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53.
Saturday night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 40.
Sunday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 54.
Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39.
Monday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 54.