Monday March 6, 2023

Northern California could be in for a new atmospheric river storm by the end of the week, potentially blasting the Bay Area with substantial rain, and the Sierra with even more heavy snow, but likely not as fierce as the wet storms that wreaked damage across the region at the start of the year, forecasters say.

Although still an early forecast, weather models show that an atmospheric river — a band of moisture that can travel thousands of miles — could flow into Northern California on Friday and Saturday, focused along the coast, including in the Bay Area, said Gerry Díaz, Chronicle meteorologist. 

“This will be a challenging forecast, because the only way that plays out is if the high pressure off the coast breaks down by Thursday of this week,” Díaz explained. “Think of the high-pressure like a big rock in a flowing stream. If you remove the rock from the stream, then plenty of water will make it downstream to California. If it stays put, then less water will make it here.”

If the weather models play out, the storm could drop 2 to 6 inches of rain across the Bay Area, with the highest rainfall totals predicted for the region’s highest peaks, Díaz said.

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