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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.

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