Chance of rain expected in Sacramento area at beginning of work week

Enjoy the clear skies today, as the weather will be changing for the start of the work week.

“There’s a storm system over the Pacific Ocean that will be moving onto the West Coast,” said Brooke Bingaman, forecast meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “We’re expecting widespread precipitation over interior northern California.”

Today will be sunny and reach a high of 67 degrees in Sacramento, and a low of 43 degrees.

But that will change Monday, when a low pressure system moves into Northern California. Rain will begin sometime Monday evening, right around the time of the evening commute, and it will continue off and on through Wednesday.

Highs Monday in Sacramento will be near 68 degrees, with light (3 mph to 7 mph) south-southwest winds during the day. The lows will dip down to 49 degrees with south winds 3 mph to 8 mph. Less than one-tenth of an inch of rain is expected to fall Monday night, but enough to make the streets wet.

“People should be cautious when they drive,” said Bingaman. “We’ve not had a lot of rain, and people are not used to driving on slick roads.”

The most recent rainfall in Sacramento was on Sept. 21 when less than a half inch of rain (0.42 inch) fell.

Showers will be likely on Tuesday, so bring those umbrellas if you plan to be out and about.

Daytime temperatures will be cool - 62 degrees - with 3 mph to 6 mph south southeast winds. But the nighttime low will be slightly warmer than normal - 50 degrees, as the cloud cover will trap the heat from the day.

Normal high for this time of year is 61, and lows around 43 degrees.

Wednesday will also be wet, with a 50 percent chance of rain. Temperatures will be near normal - 61 degrees - during the day, and drop to 48 degrees at night.

This storm could bring a quarter- to half inch of precipitation to the area before it leaves Wednesday night.

“If we get the half inch, we will still below normal,” said Bingaman.

Normal precipitation in the Sacramento area should be 2.56 inches since the start of the water year on July 1, but the region has only posted 0.55 inches so far.

The same storm will be bringing snow in the high country, with 4 to 6 inches at elevations above 6,000 to 7,000 feet, and up to a foot of fresh powder to Lassen Peak.

The last notable snow storm occurred between Oct. 27 - 29, when one inch to 25 inches of the white stuff came down, with areas above 8,000 feet elevation getting 10 to 25 inches.

“Anyone who has plans in the mountains between October and March should bring chains in their vehicle,” said Bingaman. “It could be sunny one day and the next day, a storm system might move through, so it’s a good idea to pack extra clothing, blankets, food and water.”

This storm will have only a short-term impact on the weather in the Sacramento area this week. Warmer temperatures and dry conditions return to the state Thursday, when the storm front moves out. The capital will see sunny skies, and highs back to 66 degrees. Lows will be cooler, down to 41 degrees.

It will be slightly warmer on Friday, with the thermometer climbing up to 68 degrees during the day, and dropping down to 41 degrees again at night.

Saturday will feel more like spring, with a high of 71 degrees expected during the day.

The first rains in the Sacramento area usually start in October, but the wettest months are January through March. But it’s too early to tell whether this water year will be drier than normal.

“The climate prediction center looks at El Nino signals,” said Bingaman. “For our area, it’s going to be a neutral year, so it will be a little trickier to forecast.”

A neutral year means that it is neither an El Nino or a La Nina year.

In the meantime, the storm this week will bring welcomed moisture to the Sacramento area, Bingaman said.

“Every little bit helps.”