Time to Dig up that Umbrella

The first of two storms is on its way. The second is expected to be the strongest in three years.

Orange County is expected to finally get some rain tonight. Patch file photo.
Orange County is expected to finally get some rain tonight. Patch file photo.

The first of two back-to-back storms will slide into the Southland tonight and be followed by an even wetter and more powerful weather system, which likely will dump up to 4 inches of rain in the foothills and give rise to fierce winds while threatening to trigger mud slides in areas denuded by wildfires.

"These two storms will bring significant rainfall, high elevation snow and gusty winds," warned a National Weather Service advisory.

Today's rains -- part of what the NWS calls "a dramatic change in the weather" that will result in "significant rainfall" through Saturday -- will first hit Southern California across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties by this afternoon, spread south and east into Ventura and Los Angeles counties this evening and depart Thursday evening, according to the advisory.

That storm is expected to produce between a half-inch and an inch of rain, though up to 1.5 inches could drench"upslope areas," it said.

The snow level will remain high -- above 7,500 feet during daytime hours, dipping to around 6,500 feet tonight and Thursday -- and gusty south-to- southwest winds will buffet mountain areas, especially "over higher terrain," the advisory said.

A wind advisory will be in effect in Los Angeles County in the San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley from noon today until 9 p.m. Thursday, the NWS said, forecasting south-to-southwest winds of between 20 and 30 miles per hour and gusts of between 45 and 55 mph this afternoon.

The winds will be largely confined to the foothills this afternoon but spread overnight, forecasters said.

"The second storm will impact the area from late Thursday night through late Saturday night and will likely be the strongest storm the area has experienced in about three years," according to the NWS advisory.

Moderate to heavy rain will first strike San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties late Thursday, then expand into Ventura and L.A. counties early Friday morning and persist into Friday evening, it said, adding that widespread showers likely will follow Friday night and last through Saturday, giving way to scattered showers Saturday night.

"This weather system will also be accompanied by an unstable air mass, resulting in a slight chance of thunderstorms over most of the area Friday through Saturday," according to the NWS, which said that such thunderstorms could produce "brief intense rainfall and small hail."

Rainfall amounts resulting from Friday's storms "could be very impressive," according to the NWS advisory. It cited a potential for between 1.5 and 2.5 of inches of rain in coastal and valley areas and between 2 and 4 inches in the foothills and mountains, with up to 6 inches possible "along south-facing slopes."

The snow level generally will be above 7,000 feet Friday but drop to between 5,000 and 5,500 feet by Saturday, NWS forecasters said. "Significant snowfall" is expected, along with strong, gusty south-to-southwest winds in the mountains, creating winter storm conditions, according to the NWS.

NWS forecasters said they are particularly concerned about the possibility of flash flooding and mud and debris flows around the sites of the 1,952-acre Colby Fire in the hills above Glendora and Azusa in January, the 250- acre Madre Fire in the Angeles National Forest, also in January, the 125-acre Madison Fire in the Monrovia area in April , the 22-242-acre Powerhouse Fire in the Angeles National Forest in June and the 28,000-acre Springs Fire in Ventura County in May.

"Given the potential for heavy and intense rainfall, residents located near these burn areas should be alert to the potential of mud and debris flows Friday through Saturday," according to the NWS advisory.

The Los Angeles Board of Public Works, which oversees the Bureau of Sanitation, urged residents to prepare for the storms by taking these measures:

  • Sweep driveways
  • Remove debris to prevent it from entering storm drains
  • Report downed trees or limbs
  • Avoid watering outdoor plants
  • clean up after pets

To report storm-related emergencies, Los Angeles residents should call 800 996-2489 or 311.

Despite the wind and the rain, temperatures will not be particularly low. The NWS forecast highs today of 64 in Newport Beach; and 67 in Anaheim. 

--City News Service

fact checker February 26, 2014 at 11:24 AM
SMGA, Perhaps they will. And then FOX will step in and tell you it doesn't exist or if it does, it never happened. Scientists are not 100% behind the storm so....
Dwayne Boring February 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM
JB February 26, 2014 at 02:31 PM
I moved here from Florida, land of the hurricanes and torrential, summer downpours. An inch and a half of rain doesn't make me flinch. I grew up in Buffalo, NY, where I shoveled more than my fair share of driveways after their notorious blizzards. Californians can be such weather-wimps. Just saying.
Donna Fleming February 26, 2014 at 03:36 PM
I still remember 1995 rain and flooding in Southern California. Picking up kids 5 & 7 from school. Water to my knees. My kids still recall asking if the car could do tricks in the rain? A trooper at the time. California is not prepared for the heavy storms. ***During the events of January and March 1995, over 100 stations recorded their greatest 1-day rainfalls in that station’s history. The major brunt of the January storms hit the Sacramento River basin and resulted in small stream flooding primarily due to storm drainage system failures, though flooding affected nearly every part of the state. The Salinas River exceeded its previous measured record crest by more than 1.3 m (4.3 ft), which was within 30–60 cm (0.98–1.97 ft) of the reputed crest of the legendary 1862 flood. The Napa River set a new peak record, and the Russian and Pajaro rivers approached their record peaks. More than thirty people were killed and 5 were missing.The flood cost $1.8 billion.[4]*** Be careful out there. It may be more water than you want as the ground cannot take it in fast enough.
Donna Fleming February 26, 2014 at 05:02 PM
Be safe. Shop before the rain. Stay off the roads if you can.


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