1997 opened in California with a series of three warm wet Hawaiian storms, the third being the heaviest. They hit mostly north of San Francisco, causing "100 year" floods on the Russian and Napa rivers. The storms proceeded northeast across the state dumping rain and snowmelt into the Yuba, American, Feather, Truckee.
The Cosumnes rose to double its previous record, breaking some levees downstream:
Even the East Fork Carson on the far side of the Sierra, normally near-frozen this time of year, was running at spring melt levels.
Then on 02jan97 the jet stream shifted east, opening up the usual Alaskan storm track. The cold air from the northwest pushed the last of the Hawaiian storm system southeast. The north sierra rivers started to drop and the southern ones started to rise. In the space of only a few hours the Kings went from 20KCFS to 90KCFS:
The Kern and the Kaweah rose fast too:
The storms were over by the morning of the 3rd. However, all that water poured into the central valley, breaking a bunch more levees.
What's interesting about this event is how clearly you can see the storm progressing from the coastal rivers to the north sierra rivers, and then on January 2nd suddenly shifting to the south sierra rivers.