John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This gigantic system ought to be good for the state's severe drought.
A major Pacific storm that's about to mow over California has delayed flights in San Francisco and knocked out power to 14,000 homes in Los Angeles. Satellite imagery shows why conditions are bad ahead of the storm's landfall late tonight or early Saturday – seen in the above water-vapor shot from Friday morning, the system is so massive it almost looks like a hurricane.
Here's another view of the tempest from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, which calls it a "late-season lion." The storm is expected to bring torrential rain and snow to much of the West, including Arizona:
In California, where it's already snowing in the mountains, the heavy offloading of rain could trigger flooding and landslides or worse. Along the Southern California coast, a "few tornadoes are possible along with marginally severe hail and gusty winds," according to an assessment from the Storm Prediction Center. Note that no branch of the local NWS has issued any tornado watches or warnings (though check here for the latest). This is the SPC's breakdown of today's foul-weather probabilities:
Looking on the bright side, this whale of a storm should do something toward alleviating the West's biblical drought. Contrast the expected precipitation with the bone-dry state of the land, and you can see why farmers are probably welcoming this storm with open arms (that are holding two big umbrellas):