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California prepares for storms over New Year’s weekend

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians on Friday were bracing for heavy downpours and potential flooding from a series of rainstorms poised to usher in the new year.

An atmospheric river storm, a long and wide plume of moisture pulled in from the Pacific, began sweeping across the northern part of the state Friday and was expected to bring more rain through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

Officials warned that rivers and streams could overflow and urged residents to get sandbags ready. A flood watch was in effect in much of Northern California through New Year’s Eve.

It was the first of several storms expected to roll across California over the next week. The current system is expected to be warmer and wetter, while next week’s storms will be colder, lowering snow levels in the mountains, said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist at National Weather Service in Sacramento. The Sacramento region could receive a total of 4 to 5 inches of rain over the span of the week, Chandler-Cooley said.

On the Sierra’s eastern front, flood watches and warnings were issued north and south of Reno, Nevada, where minor to moderate flooding was forecast along some rivers and streams into the weekend.

At Susanville, California about 85 miles north of Reno, the Susan River was forecast to rise from about 5 feet Friday to a foot above the flood stage of 12 feet by Saturday morning, causing moderate flooding that could affect some homes, roads and bridges, the National Weather Service said.

In Southern California, moderate-to-heavy rain was forecast for Saturday. The region will begin drying out on New Year’s Day and the Jan. 2 Rose Parade in Pasadena should avoid rainfall.

Heavy showers are forecast for Tuesday or Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Oxnard said.

The rain was welcomed in drought-parched California, but much more precipitation is needed to make a significant difference. The past three years have been California’s driest on record.

Storms in Vegas

The weekend storms are expected to dampen the Las Vegas Valley and may affect New Year’s Eve celebrations.

A New Year’s Eve rainstorm would be a first for the Strip since Las Vegas has not received significant rain on the last day of the year since .21 of an inch fell in 1943, decades before the Strip developed.

— The Review-Journal contributed to this report.

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