A chilly weather pattern is expected to bring a damaging frost and freeze to portions of California this weekend, ahead of another storm packed with heavy rain, snow and strong winds next week, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
The subfreezing temperatures on both weekend mornings could have agricultural impacts and damage blooming fruit trees and budding vines in areas away from the coast and in interior valleys in central and northern parts of the Golden State.
That cold will set the stage for another chilly, moisture-packed storm to move into the state beginning late Monday and Monday night before more significant impacts commence on Tuesday. Those impacts will include a renewal of flooding concerns due to downpours, several fresh feet of mountain snow and locally damaging wind gusts, disrupting travel and everyday life.
The new storm is the latest in a series of deadly winter storms that have bombarded California in recent weeks and months. While this storm train has unleashed major flooding, powerful wind gusts and unimaginable snowfall totals, it has helped to relieve a long-term drought and fill the state’s reservoirs. AccuWeather experts are forecasting more bouts of rain and snow deep into the spring months, but the frequency and severity of storms are expected to diminish.
Preceding the stormy weather next week will be cold conditions this weekend across much of the northern half of California. Temperatures are expected to slip below freezing each morning through Sunday for most areas away from the immediate Pacific coast. Because of that, the National Weather Service has issued numerous freeze watches and warnings, as well as frost advisories.
There are numerous concerns for agricultural interests in California from a frost or freeze this time of year due to its status as one of the nation’s agricultural hotspots; in fact, about 400 different crops are grown annually in the state.
Interests in the state’s famous wine industry, clustered mainly around the Bay Area, the north-central San Fernando Valley and just inland from the Pacific coast in an area colloquially known as ‘Wine Country,’ are especially concerned about the prospects of multiple frost and freeze events this weekend.
“We’ve had some cold evenings, and [a frost or freeze] is going to be a concern if you’ve already got some green growth,” said Rod Santos, general manager at William Harrison Vineyards & Winery in Saint Helena, in an interview with CBS News Bay Area.
Buds typically start to appear on the vines this time of year, thus the concern about damage to them due to cold weather. According to AccuWeather forecasters, temperatures across most of Wine Country are forecast to dip into the upper 20s and lower 30s both mornings this weekend.
Despite the threat posed by the cold to his crop, Santos added that his vineyard had been very encouraged for the new season because of how much rain fell this past winter.
As AccuWeather first warned earlier this week, another storm will move into the state early next week. As of early Saturday, the energy from the next storm was beginning to gather moisture over the northeastern Pacific Ocean.
A weaker storm will precede the next significant one, mainly bringing low-impact rain and snow showers to the Pacific Northwest from late this week into the weekend.
As the next storm slowly approaches, it appears that most areas will avoid receiving any precipitation to start the week on Monday. Moisture will begin to push ashore as early as Monday evening and night in far northwestern California to the north of the San Francisco Bay area.
The storm’s full force will be most evident come Tuesday. Heavy rain can exacerbate flooding issues in Central California, and snow can accumulate several additional feet, threatening to close passes in the Sierra Nevada. Strong winds can lead to more damage near the coast.
“In the Bay Area, a six- to 12-hour round of heavy rain and strong winds is expected from Monday night into Tuesday,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Heather Zehr. “An inch or two of rain seems likely, with locally higher amounts in nearby upslope areas.”
San Francisco has been hit with rain especially hard since late last year. At San Francisco International Airport, 27.67 inches of rain has fallen since the beginning of December. That is nearly twice the historical average rainfall for that time frame, which is about 14 inches.
Damaging winds were also a big issue with the last storm in San Francisco when high-rise windows were shattered on at least five skyscrapers due to wind gusts estimated at over 80 mph. While wind gusts with the next storm aren’t expected to be as strong, there still is some concern for damage.
“There is likely to be a zone of 40- to 60-mph wind gusts, especially near the central coast and in the coastal ranges such as the Santa Cruz Mountains,” stated Zehr. “Winds of that magnitude can easily bring down tree limbs, blow around loose objects and cause power outages.”
Southern California won’t be spared from this storm. As it moves slowly south along the coast into midweek, Los Angeles is expected to get rain beginning late Tuesday and continuing through Wednesday. San Diego will turn wet a little later, from late Tuesday night to Wednesday night.
As fresh cold air arrives with the storm, snow levels will fall, bringing another round of accumulating snow to the Transverse mountain ranges around L.A. Combined with strong, gusty winds, near-blizzard conditions can occur in those higher elevations.
AccuWeather’s team of long-range forecasters expects less storm activity come April and May, which is traditionally the start of the drier months in California.
“The storm track will likely stay focused farther north compared to previous months, as high pressure builds into the Southwest,” said Meteorologist Joe Bauer. “However, there will still be bouts of rain and mountain snow on occasion deep into the spring.”
Produced in association with AccuWeather