Third storm in a week to bring rain, snow to California

A third winter-like storm in a week will bring much-needed rain and possible thunderstorms to Northern California and snow to the Sierra Nevada.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Eliki Bastow, 6, visiting from Cambridge, England, watches waves crash on the municipal pier Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Pacifica, Calif. The biggest storm to hit the slopes of the Sierra Nevada this season triggered cheers Friday from the snow-starved ski resorts of Northern California and the businesses that surround them.

A third winter-like storm in a week will bring rain and possible thunderstorms to much of Northern California and snow to the Sierra Nevada, forecasters said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Nathan Owen said that after a lull Saturday, a system will move into parched California overnight packing precipitation and strong winds.

Owen says the latest storm will dump slightly less rain in the state than the previous systems — with the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley expected to get up to about half an inch.

"We'll see a very similar storm to what we had the last round with less rain, but we're expecting a good bit of wind for this system," Owen said.

He said winds of up to 55 mph are forecast for Central California.

Higher peaks in the Sierra Nevada could see another foot of snow, more than enough to keep sledders, skiers and snowboarders happy.

Several inches of snow fell on Southern California mountains, bringing joy to ski resorts and cautions for motorists.

Chains were required Saturday on several roads leading to the Bear Mountain and Snow Summit resorts in the San Bernardino Mountains.

A storm Friday dropped six inches at higher elevations and brought rain, hail and thunderstorms elsewhere.

Closer to Los Angeles, the Mountain High ski resort in Wrightwood got more than two inches of snow just in time for the weekend.

The National Weather Service said daytime temperatures in the mountains will stay in the 30s through the weekend and that more snow is expected before Monday.

The Southern California coast remains under a high surf advisory through Sunday, with unpredictable waves topping 10 feet.

Forecasters have said a strong El Nino weather system could drench California and other parts of the West in the coming months. However, Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said he didn't believe the latest Northwest storms were related to El Nino, a warming in the Pacific Ocean that can alter weather worldwide.

"We just had a jet stream pointed at us, and it brought successive storms," he said. "We don't see the effects until the winter."

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