The first band of what forecasters predict will be the region’s most powerful storm in a decade moved into Northern California on Saturday, prompting official warnings of widespread flooding and epic snowfall.
“People are definitely in a state of panic right now,” said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Hammitt. “We’re getting a lot of calls asking if we’re going to be able to deal with everything. It’s the general pandemonium of not knowing what’s coming.”
The epic system — known as an atmospheric river — could dump so much rain and snow that some ski runs and roads will be declared off-limits, with forecasters warning of significant flooding, mudslides and avalanches in the Sierra Nevada.
Up to 12 inches of rain is expected to fall on areas below 8,500 feet beginning Saturday morning, and up to 7 feet of snow could bury higher elevations, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters said the storm was packing the same wallop as one that hit Northern California in 2005, causing $300 million in damage.
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