California is a drought-stricken state thanks to the 'Atmospheric River'

California was hit with a powerful atmospheric river storm, which set new rainfall records and helped to quell wildfires. It remains to be seen how big of an impact it had on California's drought.

California is a drought-stricken state thanks to the 'Atmospheric River'

Although the weather system moved south, it dropped enough rain Monday night to cause mudslides in the San Bernardino Mountains northeastern of Los Angeles.

Over the weekend, the atmospheric river storm, an enormous plume of moisture from the Pacific, reached Northern California.

The torrential rains that fell on the region caused flooding and rock slides. Two large trucks were swept off the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in San Francisco by strong winds. Pacific Gas & Electric reported that 646,000 homes lost power and most businesses had it back by Monday.

Early Tuesday morning, light rain and snow were still falling in the northern California region. The only remaining flood warning was for Sonoma County north San Francisco. Stream levels were slow to drop in this area.

Despite all the difficulties, rain and snow were welcomed in Northern California. This area is so dry that almost all of it has been classified as experiencing extreme or extraordinary drought.

Wet weather can also reduce the likelihood of wildfires in areas that have already been ravaged by another year of devastating blazes.

According to the National Weather Service, preliminary rain totals from the storm were "staggering". Four inches (10 cm) of rainfall fell in downtown San Francisco Sunday, making it the fourth-wettest ever recorded day for the city.

The local weather office stated Monday that it was a memorable 24 hours in the Bay Area, as the much-respected atmospheric river rolled through. "We have literally gone from drought conditions to flooding in just one storm cycle."

Northeast of San Francisco, 5.44 in (13.82 cmimeters), fell on downtown Sacramento, breaking the 1880 one-day rainfall record.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo County recorded nearly 5.4 inches (13.72 centimeters), of rain along the state's central coast. Beverly Hills received 1.1 inches (2.79 cmimeters) of rain in Southern California.

Heavy snow closed Interstate 80, the main highway that runs through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Reno, Nevada to Monday morning. The state Department of Transportation stated that state highways 16 in California's Yolo and Colusa counties were closed for several miles due to mudslides.

The same storm system also hit Washington and Oregon, causing power outages that affected tens to thousands. Two people died when a tree fell onto a vehicle in Seattle.

According to the Department of Water Resource of California, Lake Oroville's water levels rose by 20 feet (6.10m) in the past week. KHSL-TV reported that most of the increase occurred between Saturday and Monday at the peak of the storm.

Justin Mankin, Dartmouth College geography professor and co-lead for the Drought Task Force at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the cycle of years-long droughts to record-breaking downpours will continue due to climate change.

Mankin stated that while rain is welcomed, it has its risks and won't end the drought. "California still requires more precipitation. It needs it at high elevations, spread over a longer period of time, so it's safe.

Chief of Sequoia National Parks' resource management and science, Christy Brigham, stated that the rain was a huge relief after the Caldor Fire, which tore down thousands of cedars and pines in the park.

Brigham stated that this amount of rain is what we refer to as a season-ending event. It should end fire season and should eliminate our need to fight this fire to a large extent.

Caldor Fire has been burning for over two months. In early September, it prompted an unprecedented evacuation of South Lake Tahoe. This is a popular tourist destination. The fire is now fully contained by firefighters. This status is also applicable to the Dixie Fire. It was the second-largest state fire in history, at less than 1,563 square miles (4.048 kilometers).

California Highway Patrol shut down a section of State Route 70 between Plumas and Butte counties over the weekend because of multiple landslides caused by the huge Dixie Fire burn scar.

Cal Fire, the state's firefighting agency did not declare wildfire season over nor reduce staffing to lower levels in winter.

Isaac Sanchez, a spokesperson for the company, stated that they would like to see more rain before we reduce staffing.

Mankin stated that California's long-term weather forecast suggests dry conditions.

He said that to end the drought in different areas, it would be necessary for California to receive precipitation that is about 200% more than normal over the next three-months.

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