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The ‘atmospheric river’ isn’t over: What fell and what’s coming today, this weekend

Take a beautiful flyover of Cache Creek from Capay to the Bear Creek confluence

Take a beautiful tour above Cache Creek starting in Capay in Yolo County and continuing to the confluence with Bear Creek.
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Take a beautiful tour above Cache Creek starting in Capay in Yolo County and continuing to the confluence with Bear Creek.

Snow and rain from the spring “atmospheric river” will continue Thursday across Northern California, dying down a bit Friday before another storm system begins Saturday.

The bulk of Sierra snow in this week’s storm will fall Thursday, with travel delays likely and chain controls already in place in the mountains.

National Weather Service now predicts a snowfall between 12 to 18 inches for the week by Friday morning, with localized amounts reaching up to 2 feet at higher elevations. The expected snow totals for the week have climbed with each updated forecast.

When the current storm originating from Alaska ends, a second system will bring more Sierra snow starting Saturday evening.

It's mid-May, but the snow hasn’t stopped at Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley reported 7 inches of new snow overnight on the upper mountain, bringing that season total to 689 inches, over 57 feet. The storm also brought an inch of snow to the base area.

Meanwhile, the latest forecast shows Sacramento breaking a daily temperature record Thursday while showers continue after a wet Wednesday night.

Here’s a rundown of what’s currently expected Thursday and into the weekend.

Back-to-back storms hit the mountains

Moderate to heavy snow will drop in the mountains through most of the weekend amid two storm systems.

Snow levels are expected to fall below 6,000 feet Thursday during the first storm, with more than a foot of new snow possible between Wednesday night and the end of Thursday

Chain controls or four-wheel drive with snow tires were required on Interstate 80 near the Donner Summit as of 6:30 a.m., California Highway Patrol said. Significant travel delays are possible all weekend, NWS warns.

After Thursday’s moderate to heavy snowfall, Friday will see lighter snow showers before another storm system hits during the weekend.

NWS warns that an additional 6 inches to a foot of snow are possible between Saturday and early Sunday, with snow levels again reaching as low as 6,000 feet. The heaviest snow in that system will fall Saturday night, NWS forecasts indicate.

How wet was Wednesday?

Sacramento County’s rain sensors show that more than an inch of rain fell throughout much of the region.

As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, more than an inch had fallen in Natomas, Rancho Cordova, Rio Linda, Roseville and the Arden Arcade area in the previous 24 hours, rain monitors show. The weather service said through 5:30 a.m., 1.32 inches of rain was collected in Sacramento’s rain gauge in the previous 24 hours.

The heaviest rains fell in the evening and into the night, while lighter showers fell earlier.

Overnight, NWS issued one record for Red Bluff Airport, where .75 inches fell on Wednesday, breaking the old record set on May 16, 1944. Other spots saw more impressive totals, including Paradise (2.29 inches), Oroville (1.15), Konocti (1.85) and Vacaville (1.12)

Showers in Sacramento will continue throughout Thursday, with a slight possibility of thunderstorms after 11 a.m. Less than a half-inch of rain is expected for the capital in the absence of a thunderstorm.

Winds up to 16 mph are also anticipated, NWS says.

When will the rain stop?

Showers may subside Friday afternoon or evening, before another storm drops another batch of rain starting Saturday and lasting into Sunday.

Forecasts indicate between 1 to 2 inches of rain will fall in Sacramento between Thursday and Sunday, with 2 to 3 inches expected in the foothills.

Sacramento’s showers may dwindle by Sunday night or Monday, the latest NWS forecast predicts.

Record cold for Sacramento

The high temperature Thursday is now expected to reach just 61 degrees, which would break the daily record for coldest max temperature in Sacramento.

The previous record of 63 degrees was set May 16, 2011.

Wind advisory in the valley

Gusts up to 40 mph throughout the northern Sacramento Valley - from Marysville up to Redding - have prompted a wind advisory by NWS, in place through 5 p.m. Thursday.

Weather officials warn of difficult driving conditions, downed tree branches and possible power outages due to the wind.

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