The latest wet winter storm is gaining strength in California, bringing with it a host of potential hazards including flooding, hail, strong winds, and even brief tornadoes as it moves south over the next few days.

Intensifying Conditions

Gusts exceeding 30 mph have been reported in areas such as Oakland and San Jose following a mild cold front that transitioned into a more vigorous storm on Sunday, according to meteorologist Brayden Murdock from the National Weather Service office in San Francisco.

“The winds are picking up speed and rainfall is expected to follow suit rapidly,” Murdock stated on Sunday afternoon.

Ongoing Risks

California’s central coast is particularly vulnerable to “significant flooding,” with forecasts predicting up to 5 inches of rain in many regions. The Santa Lucia and Santa Ynez mountain ranges could see isolated rain totals reaching 10 inches as the storm progresses towards greater Los Angeles.

Unpredictable Weather Patterns

Thunderstorms in valleys surrounding the state capital could potentially produce “brief tornadoes, large amounts of small hail, heavy rainfall, lightning, and gusty winds,” cautioned the weather service office in Sacramento.

Swift Movement

Unlike the recent atmospheric river that lingered over Southern California, causing widespread devastation earlier this month, the current storm is anticipated to pass through the region at a faster pace. The previous storm resulted in flooded roads, numerous landslides, and tragically claimed the lives of at least nine individuals.

Storm System Brings Flash Flooding and Power Outages to California

The current storm system hitting California may not be a full atmospheric river, but it still packs a punch with subtropical moisture and a strong cold front. According to forecasters, this setup is causing flash flooding, power outages, and other issues throughout the state.

Impact on Different Areas

Flood watches and warnings have been issued for both coastal and mountain areas in California. This storm is bringing widespread rainfall and could potentially drop several feet of snow at higher elevations above 6,800 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains. As a result, motorists are advised to avoid mountain routes for their safety.

Travel Advisories

In response to the weather conditions, the National Weather Service office in Reno, Nevada, suggests completing Sierra travel during daylight hours on Sunday or considering rescheduling trips for later in the week. Additionally, a backcountry avalanche watch has been issued for the Lake Tahoe area and the eastern Sierra in Inyo and Mono counties.

Emergency Preparations

To deal with potential risks from this storm, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has activated its operations center and positioned personnel and equipment in high-risk areas across the state.

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