Heavy rains that drenched Northern California over the past week put an end to two of the state’s largest wildfires and delivered water to its drought-addled reservoirs.

Since last Tuesday, as much as two feet of rain has fallen on the parched region from two weather events called “atmospheric rivers” because of the prodigious amounts of moisture they carry from the tropics. The second river—the biggest in the state in more than a decade—slammed into the California coast over the weekend, breaking daily rainfall records in San Francisco, Sacramento and other cities.

While the storms caused problems including landslides, power outages and auto accidents, state and local officials said they also brought benefits. The onslaught of moisture enabled firefighters to declare two of the state’s biggest blazes this year—the 221,835-acre Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe and the 963,309-acre Dixie Fire near Lassen Volcanic National Park—fully contained for the first time since they broke out in the summer.


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