Los Angeles

First Major Storm of the Year Sweeps Across SoCal

Rain spread across Southern California Monday as the region's first major storm of winter prompted evacuations.

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Morning showers made for a wet drive and the first rainfall in months for a region locked in a dry spell and still recovering from December wildfires, including the largest on record in California. Evacuations have been ordered for communities below hillsides charred by the Thomas fire due to the increased risk of mudslides and flooding. The fire, which is 92 percent contained, has scorched nearly 282,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Residents of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria who were evacuated because of flames in December were ordered to leave again because rains could wash dirt and debris down into neighborhoods.

By early afternoon, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced mandatory evacuations for the Kagel Canyon, Lopez Canyon and Little Tujunga Canyon areas due to their susceptibility to mudslides because of the recent wildfires.

Showers were scattered throughout the areas early Monday. Wet conditions are possible through Tuesday night. 

"We're seeing those pre-frontal showers," said NBC4 forecaster Shanna Mendiola. "Rain is expected to really pick up as we go into tonight."

The wet and windy system moving ashore Monday will bring 2 to 4 inches to coast and valley areas. Up to 6 inches of are possible in Los Angeles County hillside areas. 

Snow could make for treacherous driving conditions in mountain areas early Tuesday. Expect 12 to 18 inches at the 8,000-foot level, 3 to 6 inches at 6,000 feet. Blizzard conditions are possible on the 5 Freeway Grapevine stretch north of Los Angeles. 

The storms come after a 10-month dry spell in Southern California following torrential rains in January and February of last year. In 2017, downtown Los Angeles experienced its driest March 1 through Dec. 31 since 1878, with only .69 of an inch of rainfall.

In Northern California, a flash flood watch has been issued and rainfall the next two days could trigger mudslides in areas devastated by wildfires in October. A storm moved in to the San Francisco Bay Area early Monday, snarling traffic during the morning commute and causing several accidents. No major injuries have been reported.

The flash flood watch is in effect from noon Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday and officials in Santa Rosa, one of the areas hardest hit by last year's wildfires, said crews are standing by in case they are needed.

A winter weather advisory was issued for portions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains because higher than usual snow levels are expected Tuesday. Travelers should be wary of slippery roads, gusty winds and low visibility.

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