California Today: California Today: Severe Flooding, But Does That Mean Drought Relief?

Mike McPhate
Mike McPhate
CALIFORNIA TODAY

Good morning.

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The rain is back, and it seems to be coming all at once.

A band of dense, airborne moisture from the tropics — known as an atmospheric river — swirled into Northern California on Saturday and was expected to linger through Monday.

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In just 48 hours, the system dropped up to four inches of rain across much of the region, with as much as nine inches in the foothills and mountains, where warmer air meant snow fell only at the highest elevations.

At least a dozen rivers were forecast to rise above flood stage by midday Monday. (See videos posted online Sunday of raging waterways, including the Cosumnes River, southeast of Sacramento; the Napa River near St. Helena; and the south fork of the Yuba River in the Tahoe area.)

The authorities reported at least three deaths possibly linked to the storm, all in the Bay Area: a woman struck by a falling tree while out on a walk, a motorist involved in a crash on Interstate 880 in Fremont, and a man whose taxicab was submerged in water near Oakland’s main airport.

Water and mud made many roads impassable, and thousands of people were without electricity.

Reports suggested dozens of trees had been uprooted by ferocious winds. Among them was a treasure: the Pioneer Cabin Tree, also known as the tunnel tree, a giant sequoia that drew visitors at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

In a state withered by five years of drought, the drenching of recent days and weeks has made it tempting to wonder if we’re at a turnaround.

But water officials are not making that leap. Much depends on the resilience of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which acts as California’s largest water storage facility by replenishing depleted rivers and reservoirs after the winter.

The latest data showed the snowpack’s depth roughly equal to its historical average, an encouraging sign. But those gains could be threatened if warm weather melts it too soon.

And while Northern California has seen copious precipitation since the fall, other parts of the state — notably, in the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast — remain severely parched.

“Where the drought impacts are strongest, they’re not seeing the bulk of this precipitation,” said Michael Anderson, the state climatologist. “So location matters.”

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California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have metered paywalls.)

Downtown Los Angeles hasn’t seen so much construction since the 1920s. [Los Angeles Times]

• For two days, Mexicans protesting gas prices have disrupted the main San Diego-Tijuana border crossing. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

• Gov. Jerry Brown will release a proposed budget this week without knowing the answers to crucial questions. [The Associated Press]

• “It’s impossible to overstate how hard the job of the Oakland mayor is.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

• After 50 years, SeaWorld San Diego ended its killerwhale show. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

• How Ayelet Waldman, a Berkeley novelist, discovered the life-altering power of a little LSD. [The New York Times]

• I got gay married. I got gay divorced. I regret both. [The New York Times]

• An odd-looking minivan designed by Google is the star of the Detroit auto show. [The New York Times]

• Fascinating conversations about class and race are happening on shows like “Atlanta,” “black-ish” and “Insecure.” [The New York Times]

The Golden Globes

At the Golden Globes, “La La Land” earned best actor awards for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as well as best musical or comedy.

“Moonlight” won for best picture drama.

And Meryl Streep, accepting a lifetime achievement award, used her speech to call out Donald J. Trump. (His retort: She’s “a Hillary lover.”)

See more highlights and analysis from the awards ceremony.

Coming Up This Week

• On Monday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be in San Francisco to discuss his call for a “moonshot” to cure cancer. He’ll speak at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

SF Sketchfest, a comedy festival, kicks off Thursday with dozens of shows spread over 18 days. Among the performers: Mike Judge and Jon Hamm.

Photo L.A., a global art fair for photography, runs between Thursday and Sunday in Los Angeles.

• The Wild and Scenic Film Festival will be held at venues in Nevada City and Grass Valley between Thursday and Monday.

• The owner of the San Diego Chargers has until Sunday to announce whether the team will move from its home for 56 years to Los Angeles. Speculation has been feverish.

And Finally …

Cetywa Powell, a reader in Los Angeles, shared a photo of a geological wonder about 80 miles east of Bakersfield.

Red Rock Canyon State Park features buttes and varicolored cliffs that rise from the floor of the Mojave Desert. Wind and water carved the pleated rock walls, while their pink and red hues owe to the presence of iron oxide, otherwise known as rust.

Ms. Powell, 42, a documentary filmmaker, had never heard of the park. But a couple of weekends ago, she made the two-hour drive with her 7-year-old son, who is seen in the picture.

“It’s really impressive,” she said. “I love it out there. I want to keep going back.”

Visitors can hike miles of trails or camp under the stars at the park, which was established in 1968.

In an earlier time, the area was worked by gold miners, and before that, it was home to Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in nearby mountains.

But the rock formations may seem familiar for one of their more modern uses.

Its stark landscape has been a go-to backdrop for western movies.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.

The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Davis. Follow him on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and attended U.C. Berkeley.