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California Braces for Series of El Niño-Fueled Storms Delivering Rain, Snow, Heavy Winds

by Elisha Fieldstadt /

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Bone-dry California is going to get drenched with rain — and a lot of it — as a series of dangerous and powerful storms sweep over the state this weekend.

While forecasters expected El Niño weather patterns to help mitigate California's drought, a month of dry, warm weather left them wondering if the weather phenomenon might not deliver the snow and rain they had anticipated.

But a cluster of storms that began Friday will pound the Golden State over the next couple of days, bringing snow to mountain regions and up to 10 inches of rain in some northern areas, said Weather Channel meteorologist Michael Palmer.

Parts of Northern California already picked up an inch of precipitation on Friday, and will see at least another inch before Monday as two storms pass through, reported. A stretch of California's coast from Big Sur to the northern border was under flash flood warnings Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

The heavy storms are expected to continue from central California northward to Washington state until Friday, and some areas could see up to 10 inches of rain by next weekend, Palmer said.

The downpours will likely be accompanied by heavy, damaging winds.

Meanwhile, elevations above 7,000 feet will accumulate about 3 feet of snow, while lower elevations — where travel could be affected — might also see snowfall, according to

While the rain and snow is needed in drought-stricken California, National Weather Service officials warned that the series of storms could cause coastal flooding and power outages. Trees, brittle from the drought, are at a high risk of toppling because of heavy winds, and areas burned by wildfires are susceptible to mudslides and rockslides, reported.

Southern California won't be spared either. Los Angeles and San Diego will get about 1-3 inches of rain over the weekend, and coastal areas can expect flooding, damaging surf and high rip currents, according to

Surfer Pete Weafer told NBC San Diego that he tried taking his board out Friday in Pacific Beach, but conditions were already too choppy. He recommended that beginners stay out of the water this weekend.

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