A band of rain made landfall on the coasts of Los Angeles and Orange County Thursday, the first wave of a cold and windy storm expected to dump a significant amount of much-needed water on Southern California before the weekend.
Steady rain linked to a weakening cold front moved into San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties this morning, bringing some light showers and drizzle to parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. But a cold and unstable air mass began sliding into the Southland by midday, bringing rain to areas such as Malibu and Catalina before the system brought light precipitation into the West Los Angeles and other areas.
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Rain fell at .15 an hour or less, except for up a half-inch in the heaviest showers. By 6:30 p.m., radar was showing scattered showers over portions of Los Angeles County, mainly the far western portion and valleys and mountains, according to the National Weather Service. Radar detected some showers with heavy rain in Malibu and the western Santa Monica Mountains. The most rain fell on Opids Camp, traditionally the wettest place on record in Los Angeles County.
Through 6 p.m., 1.25 inches had fallen in the previous 24 hours on the school camp in the Angeles National Forest, 3,600 feet above Pasadena. Other rainfall leaders included the West Fork Heliport (.83 of a inch), Mount Baldy (.70), Crystal Lake (.66), Santa Anita Dam (.63), Pasadena (.57), and San Gabriel Dam and Inspiration Point (.55 each). Rainfall records for this date were set at downtown Los Angeles (.16 of an inch, breaking the previous record of .03 set in 1902) and Los Angeles International Airport (.17, breaking the previous record of .06 set in 1962). The National Weather Service forecasts the second wave of rain starting early Friday morning in Southern Los Angeles County, continuing until the afternoon, except in the mountains, where it will extend until the early evening.
The potential for heavy showers resulting from a thunderstorm creates the possibility of minor debris and mud flows over slopes previously denuded by wildfire, the NWS said, describing a threat to communities below the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. In Glendora, local officials raised the alert status to ``yellow'' for residents living below the Colby Fire burn area.
The yellow status requires residents to remove vehicles, trash containers and other obstacles from streets to protect against damage from possible flooding or mud flows and to ensure emergency crews can access the area. In the San Gabriels, the snow level will drop to around 6,000 Thursday, then to around 5,500 feet tonight and Friday, the NWS forecast, adding that between three and six inches of snow is expected to accumulate between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Also expected are strong gusty winds, which will churn up blowing snow and make driving in the mountains hazardous, forecasters said.
A winter weather advisory, which is issued to herald dangerous driving conditions, will be in effect in the San Gabriels from 3 p.m. Thursday until 8 p.m. Friday. The winds are also expected to lash the Antelope Valley, where a wind advisory will be in force until 10 p.m. Forecasters said the Antelope Valley will experience southwest winds blowing at sustained speeds of between 20 and 30 mph and gusting at 45 mph, and at as much as 55 mph in foothill areas such as Poppy Park and Lake Palmdale. Crosswinds and blowing sand and dust may affect road travel in the Antelope Valley, restricting visibility, especially on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway and Pearblossom Highway (state Route 138), they said.