California's Department of Water Resources says its latest survey shows the Sierra Nevada snowpack is still well below normal -- bad news for the drought-stricken state.
The survey was made Thursday as the first of two back-to-back Pacific storms lightly blanketed the Sierra with fresh snow.
The department says manual and electronic readings show the snowpack's statewide water content at 24 percent of average for the date.
The northern and central Sierra snowpack provides about a third of California's water supply.
More snow is expected from the week's second and more powerful storm, which is expected to arrive late Thursday and last into Saturday.
The National Weather Service said parts of the valley could see 1 or 2 inches of rain, more in the foothills. Its map of predicted totals included .6 inches for Bakersfield, a full inch for Taft, .71 inches for Arvin and 1.13 inches for Lake Isabella.
The service warned of debris flows and flash floods near wildfire burn scars, wet roads that could make travel hazardous and street flooding in some urban areas. The city of Bakersfield cleaned storm drains "notorious" for clogging during storms and checked to make sure lift stations were operating properly in anticipation of the heavy rain, said Assistant Public Works Director Nick Fidler.
The weather service predicted lower snow levels late Friday, with a mix of rain and snow possible at pass level in Kern County then and Saturday. There could be one to three feet of new snow in the higher elevations of the southern Sierra, the weather service said, with the bulk falling between midnight and noon Friday. Thunder and lightning may accompany the snow Friday afternoon, it said.
The Service said wind gusts may at some points climb to 60 to 70 mph near the Grapevine and in high mountain ranges through Saturday, also posing travel dangers.
And the service said some strong to severe thunderstorms will be possible Friday, generating damaging winds, small hail, cloud-to-ground lightening and an isolated small tornado.
To the south of us, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for about 1,000 homes in two of Los Angeles' eastern foothill suburbs beneath nearly 2,000 acres of steep mountain slopes left bare by a January fire.
For days, the cities of Glendora and Azusa have made extensive preparations, including lining streets with k-rails. Residents built barriers of wood and sandbags to keep debris flows in streets and out of homes.
While concern was highest in the Glendora-Azusa area, meteorologists also posted flood watches for many other areas denuded by fires over the past two years. The National Weather Service warned of possible rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour as well as waterspouts offshore and small tornados.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a $687 million plan to provide immediate relief to drought-stricken communities, a package that includes emergency money for communities running low on drinking water and farming communities where fallowed fields are leading to high unemployment. It will take effect immediately if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which is expected.
The Associated Press and The Californian contributed to this story.