California braces for final burst of heavy snow and rain

By Fred Greaves GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (Reuters) - Storm-lashed California is bracing for what may be a final battering of rain and snow starting late Sunday, adding to

the damage unleashed by a weather system that has caused severe flooding and killed at least 19 people across the state. Residents across a swath of central and southern

California should prepare for heavy rainfall and snow, with the potential for flooding and mudslides in a region saturated after three weeks of storms, the National Weather

Service said. The latest burst of precipitation is expected to hit the mountain ranges north of Los Angeles and east of San Diego the hardest, dropping 2 to 4 inches of rain

from late Sunday into Monday, according to Marc Chenard, a meteorologist at NWS. "The worst of it is definitely behind us, but there is still that threat for tonight into

tomorrow for some additional impacts," Chenard said in an interview, adding that he expected drier conditions to follow to wrap up the month. President Joe Biden on

Saturday approved California's request for a disaster declaration, making federal funding available to assist recovery efforts in the three counties most impacted by the storms:

Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz. Since December 26, the Golden State has been pounded by a string of so-called atmospheric rivers -- storms akin to rivers in the sky that

carry moisture from the Earth's tropics to higher latitudes, dumping massive amounts of rain. At a briefing on Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom cited estimates

that 22 to 25 trillion gallons of water had fallen in the past 16 to 17 days due to an unprecedented "stacking of these atmospheric rivers."