A man and woman walk along a path under trees at Alamo Square Park in San Francisco, 3 March 2016. Light rain has started in the San Francisco Bay Area as the region braces for a series of storms expected this weekend and into next week. Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

By Olga R. Rodriguez
5 February 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The first West Coast waves of a week of powerful storms arrived to provide strong evidence March will not be as parched as the month that preceded it.

Steady rain fell in Northern California on Saturday and was expected to go statewide Sunday. Fresh and growing snow blanketed the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, ending a dry spell and raising hopes the drought-stricken state can get much needed precipitation.

Droves of snowboarders, skiers and sledders packed Sierra slopes while tourists braved wet weather and visited San Francisco landmarks before an even more blustery storm arrived later in the day.

"It doesn't matter if it rains, we want to see as much as possible because we only have four days," said Olle Klefbom, a tourist from Sweden wearing rain jackets and holding umbrellas with his family, who waited for a cable car on Saturday afternoon. "We want to go to Alcatraz this afternoon. But if it rains too hard, we'll go shopping instead."

Dozens of arriving flights into San Francisco International Airport were delayed by more than two hours, and dozens more short flights were cancelled, officials said.

California is not the only place expecting severe weather. Conditions are especially ripe for tornadoes in the Southeast and Great Plains. Specifically, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, southern Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina and parts of Virginia.

Back in the Sierras, the Sugar Bowl ski resort near Donner Summit reported 7 inches of new snow at the summit overnight and slopes full of people Saturday.

"When it snows people are anxious to get up here and get to those fresh tracks," said Lloyd Garden, Sugar Bowl's marketing coordinator. "Die-hards love to ski when it's snowing. It's very peaceful, it's quiet and the turns are fresh and great." […]

The Sierra snowpack, which normally stores about 30 percent of California's water supply, was only 83 percent of the March 1 average when it was measured earlier this week. That's much better than a year earlier, but after years of drought nearly all the state's major reservoirs hold far less water than average by this time of year, the Department of Water Resources said. [more]

West Coast awash in water for first time in a long while

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