POTENTIALLY HISTORIC RAIN AND SNOW THE NEXT 5 DAYS
Areas of dense morning fog were noted on Tuesday in the South Valley. That was due to cold morning temperatures near freezing after all the weekend cloudiness cleared out. A light freeze or frost accompanied the patchy dense fog. Delano dropped to 30° and Meadows Field to 34°. Sunshine quickly returned by late morning with some high clouds. Temperatures rebounded nicely into the low 60s.
But big changes are right around the corner with significant rainfall forecast from Wednesday evening through next Monday morning. It won’t be continuous, but 3 separate storm systems will deliver quite a punch to California- and a major blow to the ongoing drought. Storm #1 arrives Wednesday evening from the northwest bringing up to a quarter inch of rain to the Bakersfield area. Lingering showers will persist throughout Wednesday night into Thursday. Temperatures will run cooler on Thursday into the upper 50s. Snow levels will still be fairly high up around 5,000’.
After a short break Thursday evening, the next system (Storm #2) will make its way along the polar jet stream into central California on Friday. Storm #2 is setting up as a “negative tilt” trough system. That means the trough axis is oriented northwest to southeast, rather than a positive tilt trough which is oriented northeast to southwest. This negative feature typically indicates a stronger storm with a fast jet stream on the back side (west). Consequently, I’m forecasting isolated thunderstorms with Storm #2. Snow levels will drop to about 3,500’ by Saturday morning with this one. It could threaten the Grapevine and Tehachapi Pass. The South Valley will see a quarter to a half inch of rain, but mountain could see upward of 1.50”. For Storm #2 I’m predicting 1-3” above 4,000’ (passes), 4-8” above 5,500’ and 6-12” above 6,500’
Last, but certainly not least, is Storm #3. This will arrive after a prolonged break between systems that will bring some sunshine to our region on Saturday afternoon and early on Sunday. But by Sunday afternoon, #3 is expected to tap another atmospheric river. Simultaneously, much colder air will filter in from the northwest. This will bring about a unique scenario in which it is both very wet from a semi-tropical source at the same time a sharp cold air mass interacts with it. Usually it is one or the other- not both. So, I’m forecasting heavy rainfall with potential flooding in the mountains and around Arvin-Lamont for Sunday and early Monday. Scattered thunderstorms are also indicated with this last storm system. Finally, extremely heavy snow is expected in the Kern County mountains. Both of the major model guidance suites are going nuts. If they are even partially correct, our mountain towns could see some of the heaviest snowfall they’ve seen in many years. Conservatively, I’m forecasting 10-18” above 5,000’, 6-12” above 4,000’ and 3-6” above 3,000’. Snow levels will fall to around 2,500’. Please be advised this is 5 days out and a lot can change. Storm #3 will have my paramount attention over the next few days.
Thereafter, the very wet weather pattern shifts to a dry outlook in California. The polar jet stream moves north into the Pacific northwest and we get a break. Again, it is too early to be sure- but this could be a major winter event that makes this January an historic month in Kern County weather.
Chief Meteorologist MILES MUZIO- January 17, 2017 8:03 PM
Today's Record Temperatures