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After dry Monday, another big storm is coming. Here’s how wet Sacramento could get

How high is the Sacramento River? Watch I Street Bridge open for 78-foot boat in Old Sac

The 78-foot-long Capitol Hornblower cruise ship travels the robust Sacramento River on February 28, 2019, and forces the I Street Bridge in Old Sacramento to open up. The last part of this video is speeded up.
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The 78-foot-long Capitol Hornblower cruise ship travels the robust Sacramento River on February 28, 2019, and forces the I Street Bridge in Old Sacramento to open up. The last part of this video is speeded up.

After a weekend of showers and a dry Monday, another storm is in store for Northern California starting Tuesday, and it’s set to dump plenty of rain in Sacramento this week.

Anywhere from 1 to 4 feet of snow is also in the forecast throughout the Sierra Nevada region, leading the National Weather Service to issue yet another winter storm watch, warning that mountain travel conditions will include chain controls, low visibility (with whiteout conditions possible in some areas) and possible road closures prompting major delays.

An atmospheric river system led to flooding in the northern Sacramento Valley and a shattering of Sacramento’s daily rainfall records last Wednesday. Last month was among the wettest Februaries ever recorded in Sacramento.

Over the weekend, downtown Sacramento started March with 0.75 inches of rain, nearly all of it coming Saturday, according to preliminary NWS precipitation data.

It will rain

Rainfall will be heaviest Tuesday evening through Wednesday night, according to NWS forecasts.

Sacramento could get as much as 2 inches of rain between Tuesday and Thursday, with most of the valley and foothills getting similar totals in that stretch. The historical average three-day rain total for March 5-7 in downtown Sacramento is less than one-third of an inch.

High temperatures in Sacramento should stay in the mid-to-high 50s throughout the week. Showers may continue Friday, with Saturday expected to be the next dry day.

It will snow

Snow wall fall at elevations between 5,500 and 6,500 feet Tuesday before dropping as low as 3,500 feet Thursday.

Between 1 and 4 feet of snow is forecast to fall between Tuesday night and Thursday morning, with major travel delays anticipated, NWS Sacramento warns. NWS’ Reno office adds that snow showers may continue into Friday as well.

Caltrans on Monday said all chain controls on Interstate 80 were dropped for the day, but chains are likely to be required again on Tuesday.

Flooding is possible, but not a huge threat

A storm system like the one forecast for this week would not normally carry any significant flood risk, but concerns are higher than normal because the ground in some areas remains saturated with water from last week’s downpour, as NWS meteorologist Cory Mueller explained over the weekend.

Major problems are not anticipated, but localized flooding near river crossings and on roadways is possible.

The NWS five-day river flow forecast shows more than a dozen areas along the Sacramento and Cosumnes rivers are expected to reach flood “monitor” stage this week, while a handful of bridge crossings in Tehama and Lake counties are forecast to reach flood levels.

Last week’s storm inundated Northern California with heavy flooding, especially in the northern Sacramento Valley, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare an emergency in 26 counties. Most dramatically, the town of Guerneville in Sonoma County turned into a virtual island for about two days before water receded Friday.

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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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