Southern California is expected to get its first taste of a cold rainstorm Saturday, but forecasters say the brunt of the weather system won't hit until Sunday.
"This is pulse Number 1 of many," in a storm system that is expected to keep the region wet on and off through Tuesday evening, said Meteorologist Jamie Meier of the National Weather Service.
A 20 percent chance of rain is forecast on Saturday and Sunday. Then, rain becomes likely Sunday night and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
All together, downtown Los Angeles is expected get about a half inch of rain, while the mountains and foothills should get twice that much.
Saturday's highs will be around 60 degrees.
Los Angeles gets an average about 15 inches of rain per year, but only about 1.8 inches has fallen since July, and the city has been below normal since 2005, when more than 26 inches fell. In 2006, about 11.6 inches fell. Last year, only 5.6 inches fell.
The wet weather, accompanied by gusty winds out of the southwest and west, is expected to last through Tuesday afternoon.
Temperatures will remain cool though the period -- about 15 degrees below normal.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see high temperatures along the coast in the 50s," Meier said.
Westerly winds in advance of the main front will be at 15 mph or more. Some gusts may hit 35 mph.
In the mountains at elevations of 7,000 feet or more, snow is expected as temperatures start to drop Saturday night.
A wind advisory is in effect Saturday -- gusts could hit 50 mph -- and a winter storm watch is in effect through Sunday morning. Three or 4 inches of snow is expected on the local ski hills, Meier said.
High winds could affect driving along the Grapevine section of Interstate 5 and in parts of the high desert.
By Sunday morning, the snow level could drop as low as 3,500 feet.
Strong winds also will affect the Antelope Valley, where a wind advisory in is in place through midnight at least. The NWS warned of the possibility of blowing dust and potentially damaging gusts up exceeding 60 mph.
OC Coast Preparing for One-Two Punch
Lifeguards say it's the combination of high tide and high surf that could create coastal flooding near Seal Beach.
"There's high tide, high surf, and if the rain jumps in on top of that then there is cause for concern," said Seal Beach Lifeguard Captain Joe Bailey.
City officials say they are preparing to notify residents through cable television and a reverse 9-1-1- system, if necessary.
City crews erected a sand berm last month to protect homes along the waters edge. The 10-foot-high wall stretches along the beach front for three-quarters of a mile and cost $60,000.
Today Caltrans crews were also busy prepping for the weekend storm. Along Pacific Coast Highway, they inflate and deflate "bladders" -- large vinyl balloons -- which are used to keep ocean water from pouring through the street side storm drains.
"So we put them in when we have high tides, to keep the water on the bay side and not flood the street," said Caltrans worker Brian Smith.
Friday morning's high tide of 7.3 feet left six inches of water in the road in Sunset Beach.
Maintenance crews were also busy at Surfside Colony, where a second sand berm is in place, protecting 250 homes there. But it will come down in February.
"They're going to be extending the beach then with sand fill. We do it every four to five years," said resident manager Chressa James.
Saturday morning's high tide was expected to be above seven feet.