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Several strong storms are rushing toward Central and Northern California, bringing much-needed rain to drought-stricken areas beginning Thursday night, but also bearing fears of flooding in fresh fire scars.

A large trough of low pressure hovering off the coast of the Pacific Northwest is driving repeated rounds of precipitation in the northern part of California and ushering in the first major storm of the season, National Weather Service forecasters said.

What’s known as an “atmospheric river” is pumping continuous moisture over the region, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Oxnard station.

On Thursday morning, scattered showers were reported across Central and Northern California, and more storms are moving in. A storm system arriving in the evening and lasting into Friday is expected to be “significant,” said Emily Heller, with the weather service’s Sacramento station.

The northern Sierra Nevada had already received about 10 inches of snow by the beginning of the week, and 1 to 2 feet more might be dumped in the region early next week, Heller said.

Weather officials said the Sacramento area and north could receive a half-inch to 2 inches of rain, with the majority falling along and north of Interstate 80. Mountain areas might get up to 4 inches. About half an inch could fall over San Francisco, and the northern coastal areas, including portions of Sonoma and Trinity counties, could see 1 to 2 inches of rain.

Another storm, which Heller called the “really heavy hitter,” is slated to roll in Sunday night and will be even stronger.

Around 3 to 4 inches of rain are forecast to fall over the Sacramento and San Francisco areas from Saturday night through Tuesday, with most precipitation falling from Sunday into Monday. By the time skies clear next week, mountain regions could see up to 10 inches.

While the bulk of the rain will be to the north, the storm system will also drift into Southern California. Weather officials predict metros areas in Los Angeles County could get about a half-inch of rain, and 1 to 1 1/2 inches in the mountains.

Graphic illustration showing the moisture plume in an atmospheric river lifting over coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada, dropping rain and snow.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Heller described the atmospheric river as bringing long bouts of rain in a narrow corridor of moisture in the atmosphere.

“It’s almost like a front, except [where the moisture is] is just more concentrated.” The one hitting Northern California is considered moderate to strong.

“Normally, the way it works is we just have this band of moisture move down the coast. And that’s the kind we’re going to see in Southern California,” Kittell said. “But up there, they actually have it where it stalls.” The storm system could hover for days over the central part of the state.

Storms during this time of year are not uncommon, Heller said, but it’s been several years since they arrived this early.

And not a moment too soon. California just recorded its driest water year in a century. Average precipitation for the state’s 2021 water year was about half of what experts consider typical.

Earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency, imploring Californians to conserve water in the face of one of the state’s most severe droughts on record.

There are cautious hopes that the coming rains will bring relief and reduce fire risk in the state’s parched regions, but they’re not expected to end the drought.

“Unfortunately, two years of drought — one storm is not going to fix it,” Heller said. Sacramento typically records 12.63 inches of rain per water year. Last year, it was closer to 7 inches.


California’s fire, rain and mudslide cycle: How to prepare and stay safe

Californians regularly experience wildfires followed by heavy rain and mudslides. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

The rain could be beneficial but it also brings risks. The National Weather service issued a flood watch from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning for northern burn scars, including the Dixie fire and the North Complex from 2020.

There are also fears that the influx of heavy rain “could bring potential ash and debris flows over recent burn scar areas in Shasta, Tehama, Butte and Plumas counties,” the weather service said in an advisory.

Concerns are lower in Southern California, where comparatively less rain is expected and some burn scars are older, and therefore less prone to slides and flooding, weather officials said.

But officials are “moderately concerned” about the area charred by the recent Alisal fire in western Santa Barbara County, which ignited Oct. 11.

“It’s really fresh,” Kittell said. “There’s a few vulnerable areas that any kind of mud and debris flows would cause some issues.”

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Tags: for subscribers for subscribers for subscribers for subscribers for subscribers for subscribers for subscribers the weather service’s weather service’s national weather service the state’s in southern california atmospheric river the storm system the storm system the sacramento inches of rain sierra nevada san francisco the northern the moisture the northern moisture expected is expected los angeles a half inch

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Dog adopted after swimming 3,300 feet across the Ohio River

A runaway dog that swam 3,300 feet across the Ohio River in 2020 has been adopted after a year of training and trust-building. 

Allie, a rescue dog, ran away from her owner on Dec. 5, 2020, and swam across the Ohio River from Evansville, Indiana, to Henderson County, Kentucky, according to SWNS. 

After she was rescued one week later, Allie was brought to volunteer trainer Michelle Phillips, 51, from Boonville, Indiana, who recently adopted the pooch, SWNS reported. 


According to the news agency, when Allie first ran away from her then-owner’s home, she ran to the Ohio River and spent an hour swimming across. 

Allie, a runaway dog that swam 3,300 feet across the Ohio River in 2020 has been adopted after a year of training and trust-building. (SWNS) 

While she was in the river, officers with the Evansville Police, Fire and Animal Control departments tried to rescue her, but she refused to get close to them and was almost hit by a barge, according to SWNS. 

Michelle, who was part of the rescue efforts, told SWNS: "I raced down there and found several people watching her in the water and said she had gone under several times."


Thankfully, Allie made it across to Kentucky, but she immediately ran into the woods. For a week, rescuers tried to coax Allie to safety, but she ran away from anyone who came close to her.

Allie ran away from her then-owner on Dec. 5, 2020, and swam across the Ohio River from Evansville, Indiana, to Henderson County, Kentucky. (SWNS) 

Allie the dog was recently adopted by her trainer Michelle Phillips. (SWNS) 

Eventually, rescuers were able to get Allie in a field and after six hours, they were able to fence her in and leash her.


That night, she was placed in Phillips’ care.

"We just brought her home and she went and laid down on our couch," Phillips told SWNS. "I don't think she moved much that first night, we just let her be. She was extremely fearful of people, dog leashes, and just scared."

Though Phillips was only supposed to spend a few months training Allie, she quickly bonded with the pup and formally adopted her earlier this month. (SWNS) 

Though Phillips was only supposed to spend a few months training Allie, she quickly bonded with the pup and formally adopted her earlier this month.

"I really decided quite early on that she wasn't going anywhere," Phillips said. "I believe dogs are family and mine have a good life, every dog deserves a loving home and a chance. I could not stand to put her through anything more so I really thought, what better time than the year 'anniversary' of finding her?"


Ann Schmidt is a Lifestyle reporter for Fox News.

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