Gear up for a rainy, snowy Thanksgiving in Northern California

Get ready for a wet Thanksgiving in Northern California, with possible implications for Camp Fire evacuees in the Paradise area.

The National Weather Service said Saturday that rain and snow are expected to start falling across a wide swath starting late Tuesday. The wet weather is expected to continue for several days, possibly as late as Sunday, said Sacramento forecaster Eric Kurth.

Kurth also said another “red flag” warning was scheduled to go into effect in the Paradise area late Saturday and early Sunday, with the possibility of “gusts up to 45 mph.”

While not the first rainfall of the season — the Sacramento region got light rain in early October — this will be considerably heavier. “This will be the first significant widespread (rain) where everybody across the area will get a significant amount,” Kurth said.

The heaviest rain will come late Thursday and early Friday, he said.

Kurth said it’s possible the rain could bring some ash runoff in the areas affected by the Camp Fire, but it’s far too soon to know if serious flows of mud and debris are possible. “It’s something we’re going to be closely monitoring,” he said.

In January, mudslides killed 21 people in Montecito in areas scarred by the Thomas Fire weeks before.

State officials have fretted that heavy rain could bring more misery to Camp Fire evacuees who have been living outside. They expect to clear out by Sunday afternoon the “tent city” that’s formed in the Chico Walmart parking lot.

At the same time, Kurth said the rain will bring cleaner air to the Camp Fire region.

“We’ve all been looking forward to something to clear the air, knock the fires down,” he said.

Air quality in much of Northern California has been terrible since the Camp Fire erupted Nov. 8, although conditions have improved somewhat. The air quality was listed as “unhealthy” Saturday in the Chico and Sacramento areas.

Kurth said Thanksgiving travelers should proceed cautiously. After months with little or no rain, oil has built up on the roads, which will become slick with the first significant precipitation, he said.

Snow as low as 6,000 feet will likely affect motorists heading over the Sierra for the holiday, he said.