California braces for heavy rain and flooding from back-to-back ‘pineapple express’ storms

The West Coast braced for severe weather Thursday and this weekend as more than 22 million people were under flood alerts and authorities prepared for back-to-back Pacific storms.

Some 32 million people are also under high wind alerts, meaning widespread power outages are possible due to the “atmospheric river” effect, caused by airborne currents of dense moisture.

The two storms, due Thursday and Sunday into Monday, also fit the description of a “Pineapple Express,” having originated in the subtropical waters around Hawaii.

High areas will be hit by snow and further inland, into the Rockies, more than a million people were under winter weather alerts, with several feet of snow expected in some places. Areas above 7,000 feet could see 12 to 18 inches of snow, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Hart said in a briefing Wednesday.

Heavy snow arrived early Thursday in Soda Springs, Nevada County, California, where drone footage showed backed-up traffic, cars losing control and snowplows out in force on Interstate 80.

Up to 2 feet of snow could fall in the Sierras through Friday.