California rain breaks records as atmospheric river storm pounds state

California
Cars try to navigate a flooded street on Oct. 24, 2021 in San Rafael. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cars try to navigate a flooded street on Oct. 24, 2021 in San Rafael. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An atmospheric river storm system brought much-needed rain to drought-stricken California on Sunday and Monday, including record amounts in Sacramento and San Francisco, according to the National Weather Service.

Downtown Sacramento received 5.44 inches of precipitation, the most ever recorded in a 24-hour period there. The amount bests the city’s old record of 5.28 inches, which dates back to 1880, NWS reported.

Meanwhile, downtown San Francisco saw 4.02 inches of precipitation, making it the city’s rainiest day ever recorded in the month of October, the weather service said. The total shatters the city’s previous October record of 2.48 inches set on Oct. 13, 2009.

Overall, San Francisco experienced it’s fourth-wettest day ever since record-keeping began during the Gold Rush. The city’s single-day rainfall total is 5.54.

“It’s been a memorable past 24 hours for the Bay Area as the long talked-about atmospheric river rolled through the region,” the local weather office said. “We literally have gone from fire-drought conditions to flooding in one storm cycle.”

In addition to flooding that resulted in road closures, the powerful storm also led to widespread power outages that left tens of thousands of Pacific Gas & Electric in the dark, as well as some evacuations amid concerns over potential mudslides and debris flows in recent burn areas.

Still, despite significant rainfall totals, the first major storm of the season isn’t really expected to make much of a dent in the state’s drought, according to experts.

“One storm this early in the water year does not predict the rest of the winter storm season,” state climatologist Michael Anderson said in a statement. “After this system we see a period of dry conditions return to California.”

California’s last year, which ended Sept. 30, was among the driest on record in the state. And some of the state’s most important reservoirs remain at record low levels.

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