Atmospheric River moves into Central California. Here's what to expect

An atmospheric river will continue to bring widespread rain to the Central Valley and snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills on Thursday.

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Thursday, January 28, 2021
Central California storm: Flood Advisory issued as Atmospheric River brings more rain, snow
A Flood Advisory is in effect for Fresno, Madera, Merced and Mariposa counties until 11:30 am.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An atmospheric river will continue to bring widespread rain to the Central Valley and snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills on Thursday.


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an atmospheric river is "a flowing column of condensed water vapor" that moves through the atmosphere and cools, producing heavy amounts of rain and snow. The NOAA says powerful atmospheric rivers could cause flooding and even mudslides.


So here's how it's expected to affect the Central Valley and foothills:


A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 10:00 pm for the Sierra Nevada and adjacent foothills. We are expecting six to ten feet of snow above 4,000 feet and five to ten inches above 2,000 feet. Rain totals in the foothills could reach four to five inches by Friday, so the possibility of flooding and mudslides remains a concern. Meanwhile, the Valley floor could see two to three inches of rain, which could also cause minor flooding.

LATEST WEATHER COVERAGE: More rain and snow to pour over Valley, foothills causing concerns for flooding

(Note: ABC30's Accuweather team will continue to track the storm and will provide updates throughout the rest of the week. Watch the video player above for the latest updates).



The storm is also raising some flooding concerns in areas burned by the Creek Fire. Emergency Services officials are concerned that similar conditions this week could create hazards in burn scar areas.

Officials are also asking people to reconsider their trips to the Fresno County Mountains through Friday.

The areas most vulnerable to these natural disasters include Huntington Lake, Peterson road below Highway 168, Alder Springs and Big Creek.

Several county agencies are currently developing a plan that could include evacuations for some areas. The Red Cross is also preparing for the looming storm with volunteers on standby. They suggest residents put together an emergency kit with essential items, like water and a flashlight.

Click here for a list of locations to collect sand or sandbags.


Those driving on Highway 41 are advised to take caution. State Route 168 at Huntington Lake Road, near the Shaver Marina, is closed due to heavy snow in the area, Caltrans reported. Meanwhile, CHP officers were escorting vehicles over Interstate 5 at the Grapevine.

RELATED: TIPS: How do you recover from hydroplaning?

Click here for the latest road closures and chain controls in Central California.

WATCH | Latest Accuweather Forecast

Watch the latest Accuweather Forecast from the StormWarn 30 center.