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Latest Round of El Niño Moisture Is Hitting California Now

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Oh, what a difference a year makes. Last winter, California was in the midst of a fourth-consecutive bad snow year with ski areas struggling to keep the lifts turning due to very little moisture and warm temperatures. And although this winter hasn't been record breaking in the Sierra, even an average amount of snowfall seems amazing to snow-starved California skiers. This week a series of storms will add to the snowpack as the year's first traditional El Niño weather pattern brings rain and flooding to cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Our advice? Whether you're in NorCal or SoCal, bail on the cities and head for the hills: there will be fresh snow in the mountains.

More on El Niño:
What Do You Need to Know About El Niño? These 10 Things.
How LA is Prepping to Take This Winter's Monster El Niño
Is El Niño the Solution to California's Drought?
GIFed: Watch El Niño's Rainy March Across North America
What Exactly Should Los Angeles Expect From This Winter's Brewing El Niño?

California's mountains have already seen big storms this winter, but many of these were not directly caused by this year's record-breaking El Niño. In fact, much of the precipitation that fell in early winter came from the break down of the ridiculously resilient high pressure ridge that dominated last year's weather. Now that it's January (when historically El Niño usually starts to deliver on precipitation for the southwest), a more traditional El Niño weather pattern has set up. Head over here for an in-depth explanation of what El Niño means nation-wide, but right now the current storms are streaming in from the Pacific to deliver moisture to the southwestern United States. Just take a look at the precipitation forecast through January 11:

Accuweather reported yesterday that some areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco may see localized flooding and mudslides. Today, those predictions came true in both cities (just look at the photos here and here). Rainfall totals through the week will be measured in inches from coastal California, including Crescent City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and in Phoenix. Flagstaff, Arizona, could receive 1 to 2 feet of snow by the end of the week."

In the mountains, Lake Tahoe meteorologist Bryan Allegretto says that by Friday morning, the entire region should see 1-2 feet of snow, with the potential for 3 feet at higher elevations. NOAA is predicting similar totals elsewhere: 10-20 inches in Mammoth and the San Bernardino mountains outside of Los Angeles could see even more. NOAA reports that while locations below 5,000 feet will receive about 1 foot of snow, between 5,000-7,000 feet skiers can expect 2 feet of snow and almost 4 feet of snow at elevations above 7,000 feet.

While all this moisture is not likely to solve California's drought, it's certainly a step in the right direction.

· The Tahoe Daily Snow [Open Snow]
· Train of storms to drench California, southwestern US as El Nino drives the pattern [Accuweather]