California braces for more flooding as 2 storms target region; whiteout in Michigan: Updates

SAN FRANCISCO – Twin storms were forecast to batter California this week, the second one likely to provide the latest of a dozen atmospheric rivers to deluge the state in recent months.

The National Weather Service forecast periods of heavy rain and snowfall for the Sierra Nevada with wind gusts reaching 50 mph over the next few days.

"After a tranquil Saturday, active weather is expected to overspread much of the West," the weather service warned.

The first storm had already begun ushering Pacific moisture into California on Sunday and was forecast to spread north quickly up the Pacific Northwest.

AccuWeather meteorologists warn that twin storms could deliver "significant" precipitation to Northern California before sweeping down to the southern part of the state.

"Any vigorous downpours could further exacerbate river flooding concerns in Northern California," AccuWeather meteorologist La Troy Thornton said.

The second storm, arriving Tuesday, will likely include characteristics of an atmospheric river – a long, flowing region of the atmosphere that carries water vapor through the sky. AccuWeather said that storm will bring even heavier rain and mountain snow into Wednesday.

The series of storms battering California since late December have caused flooding in several locations, collapsed roofs in mountain communities overwhelmed by acres of snow and left thousands without power. But the storms also pulled most of the state out of a brutal three-year drought.

Only one-third of California remains under a drought advisory, most of in the least-concerning "moderate'' category. In mid-December, 98% of the state was in some form of drought, the vast majority of it at least in the "severe'' category.

In this image taken with a drone, a residential swimming pool hangs on a cliffside after a landslide occurred in San Clemente, Calif., on March 16, 2023.
In this image taken with a drone, a residential swimming pool hangs on a cliffside after a landslide occurred in San Clemente, Calif., on March 16, 2023.

STORMS SWEEP CENTRAL US:Blizzard conditions possible


►The second storm is likely to focus on Southern California, the ample availability of moisture sending rainfall amounts skyrocketing, AccuWeather said.

►Heavy rain is expected to affect the Los Angeles area Tuesday, and widespread flooding is possible. As of March 18, downtown Los Angeles has picked up 24.06 inches of rain since November, more than twice its normal total for the date.

Whiteout in Michigan: Scores of cars crash on interstate

Lake-effect snow showers will continue mainly downwind of the lower Great Lakes on Sunday, the weather service said. In Michigan, Interstate 96 near Portland was fully open Sunday, hours after scores of vehicles were involved in a pileup in whiteout conditions. Michigan State Police officials said they closed both eastbound and westbound I-96 just after 5 p.m. on Saturday following the crash on the eastbound lanes. There were whiteout conditions prior to the pileup of up to 100 cars, but the sun was out and skies had cleared by the time they released an image showing the wreckage. Injuries were reported but none were serious, police said.

Video obtained by the State Journal showed many vehicles collided with the cable barrier separating the eastbound and westbound lanes.

Conditions quickly worsened and visibility grew poor just prior to the pileup. Some drivers bumped into guard rails, while others couldn't stop and slammed into cars ahead of them.

Deep South in a deep freeze until Tuesday

The first day of spring Monday will feel like just an extension of winter for large portions of the East and South as those regions feel the chilling effects of what the National Weather Service calls "a large dome of cold air.''

The Deep South will be in a deep freeze from north Texas to the North Carolina coast, resulting in "a handful of record-breaking cold min and max temps'' both Sunday and Monday mornings. Freeze warnings have been issued across the region, and in some spots the thermometer will dip into the low 20s.

"The warmer-than-average winter for most of the South caused trees to bloom several weeks early across much of the region, so this may be a jolt to vegetation,'' The Weather Channel said.

A warming trend will begin Tuesday, raising afternoon temperatures by 15 to 20 degrees compared to Sunday, the outlet said.

Floodwaters trap hikers in Grand Canyon

Floodwaters are beginning to recede in the Havasupai Tribe area near Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, where tourists were trapped overnight over the weekend, the tribe said on its Facebook page. Tribal guides were leading hikers around the creek waters into the village on a back trail. The tribe reported Friday that flooding had washed away a bridge to the campground, and an unknown number of campers were evacuated Saturday, including some by helicopter. The area is deep in a gorge, reachable only by foot, helicopter, horse or mule.

"No cameras, no pictures as you are guided through areas that are generally closed to tourists," the Facebook post said. "These are sacred sites so please be respectful and follow directions. We are doing all we can to make reasonable accommodations."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Weather live updates: California braces for another atmospheric river