California bracing for biggest soaking since rains from rare Tropical Storm Hilary

The monster storm that triggered a snow emergency in Anchorage, Alaska last week is headed for California threatening to bring the Golden State several days of rain, the most since Tropical Storm Hilary.

The storm is headed from the Gulf of Alaska, where it dumped over five feet of snow in less than a day on Thompson Pass.

"Once off the West Coast, the storm will be in no hurry to move further. Forecast models are now showing it may take until the weekend for it to finally make its way into the western U.S," said the FOX Forecast Center. 

"While this mostly offshore track may limit widespread impactful rain, it will also lengthen the period of time that rain will be in the forecast," forecasters continued. "For cities across Northern California, this may be from Tuesday all the way through Saturday."

San Francisco, Sacramento and Redding could see three straight days of rain. This will be the first time since May for those cities.

Timing of the West Coast storm


The low drifts across the Pacific and off the coast of Northern California and cuts itself off from the jet stream, which would move it across the country.

Wednesday and Thursday

The low meanders off the coast, penned in by a high to the west. This could set the coast up for at least three days of rain.

The biggest flood threat comes Thursday after several days of rain saturate the soil. 

Thursday and Friday

"The storm could also bring some rain to Southern California late in the week, marking the first major rainmaker for the highly populous region since Tropical Storm Hilary in August," said the FOX Forecast Center.

The low will eventually push east toward the end of the workweek.

"Now, notice this is that low-pressure system by Wednesday, still off the coast here, but it gets closer as we go through Thursday and in through Friday," said Meteorologist Hayley Meier. "And that's when the rain will then start to traverse a bit farther in towards the U.S. and to areas such as Flagstaff, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Those are some spots that could be seeing at least maybe a half-an-inch to an inch in some low locations from this system."

The Sierra Nevada mountain range is poised to make out well with early-season snow as well. 

"The Sierra (mountains) are likely to receive their first big dumping of snow of the fall, however, the forecast remains very much uncertain," said the FOX Forecast Center. "It depends how close the storm tracks to the coast, with a closer track producing more snow while a far western track may not produce much snow at all. At this point, at least a foot appears likely across the higher peaks of the southern Sierra with the best chance of snow to occur from Thursday into the weekend."

San Francisco, usually happy to see rain, is a bit blue as they welcome tens of thousands of visitors for the international Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this week.

Get updates at