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‘Probably gonna be a wet one’: Two storms incoming to kick off March. Will it flood again?

After one of the rainiest Februaries ever recorded in Sacramento, back-to-back storms in early March should drop moderate precipitation in the valley yet again, including more snow in the Sierra Nevada.

A dry Thursday has carried over into a rainless Friday morning in Sacramento, but showers could hit by mid-afternoon before heavier rains roll in around 10 p.m., according to National Weather Service forecasts.

Between a half-inch and an inch of rain will fall through the end of the weekend, NWS forecaster Mike Smith said. Rain will likely be heaviest late Saturday morning, he said.

Temperatures will warm up to a high of about 62 degrees by Monday, a sunny reprieve before another system will pour on the region Tuesday through about Thursday.

When will flooding end?

Flood conditions continue to subside, slower in some areas than others, as the NWS warning expired Thursday night.

The landlocked town of Guerneville remains under evacuation orders, but Sonoma County Sheriff’s officials said Thursday that the goal was to have the community reopened to residents only by noon Friday and fully opened some time Saturday. As of Thursday, folks were still boating their way through Guerneville.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Friday morning that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. teams, as well as health and damage assessment crews, will survey the area in the morning and advise residents when it is safe to return.

Smith said there’s “probably not a huge threat of flooding” in the Sacramento region or south of there as this weekend’s rain total won’t even reach half of Wednesday’s 2.52 inches.

“As you go further north, such as Redding, their precipitation has dropped off,” Smith added. “So at this point we’re not really expecting any flood issues unless they’re already there ... It certainly shouldn’t make anything too much worse.”

Flooding and other damage brought on by heavy atmospheric river storms led Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency for 26 counties throughout California by the end of February.

Yes, it’s still snowing in the mountains

The weekend storm will bring another 10 to 20 inches of snow in the mountains Friday evening through Sunday evening, according to NWS forecasts, which say Friday and Monday will likely be the best travel days.

Snow levels will rise from 4,500 feet Friday night to about 5,500 feet by Sunday, with a winter storm warning in place around 6,000 feet, Smith said.

Smith said it’s too early to tell how much snow will fall in the storm starting Tuesday, but tweets by the NWS Sacramento and Reno offices suggest heavy rain, mountain snow and breezy winds are in the forecast. NWS Reno issued a special weather statement on “yet another winter storm” passing hitting the Sierra region, noting that the first few days of March will continue February’s “active storm pattern.”

Snowfall in February led multiple Tahoe-area ski resorts to blow past monthly records, with hundreds of inches accumulating in spots both north and south of Lake Tahoe. In response, Vail Resorts extended the ski season by about a week at its three Tahoe-area properties.

Next week is ‘gonna be a wet one’

Another system will bring rain to the valley and snow to the mountains yet again, starting Tuesday and lasting through at least Thursday.

“That’s probably gonna be a wet one,” Smith said, but noted it’s “too early to tell” how many inches of rain or feet of snow that might translate to. “It probably won’t equal last week.”

Mountain travel is expected to become hazardous once again, and Smith said anyone planning to make the drive should be well-prepared for stormy conditions and chain controls.

It’s similarly hard to anticipate at this point whether the storm will reintroduce flood risks in northern Sacramento Valley.

“There might be something minor,” Smith said.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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