Heavy rain to hit Southern California; thousands flee flooding in Central Valley

Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

LOS ANGELES — A weary, storm-soaked California is bracing for another bout of heavy rain, power outages and potential flooding this week as a cold weather system takes aim at the state.

Light rain was falling in many regions Monday, the first day of spring, with precipitation expected to gain strength early Tuesday and linger into Wednesday.

Unlike recent warm atmospheric river storms that pulled moisture from the tropical Pacific, the incoming system will be a "cold, powerful, dynamic storm coming out of the northwest," said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. The greatest effects are expected in Southern California.

"The main event starts to approach tonight, and it really hits us hard tomorrow — that's when we're going to get the heaviest rain, the strongest winds and the heaviest snow in the mountains," Sweet said. By Wednesday, high temperatures will be 10 to 15 degrees below normal.

Lower mountain and foothill areas in the Los Angeles area could see up to 4 inches of rain, with up to 3 inches possible along the coast and in valleys, Sweet said. Up to 4 feet of snow is possible at elevations above 6,000 feet with a significant threat of avalanches.

Strong winds — including gusts up to 40 mph in L.A. County and 60 mph in the mountains — are also possible. But the arrival of more moisture remains a top concern.


"We'll have our eye on (wildfire) burn areas, we'll have our eye on just about any location, really, for the possibility of flooding," Sweet said. "At this point, we've gotten so much rain that any additional rain has the potential to cause problems."

That was certainly the case in Central California, where Tulare County residents continued to deal with flood threats from surging rivers and breached levees.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office on Sunday ordered evacuations in Alpaugh and Allensworth due to a nearby levee breach, with at least one official indicating the breach may have been caused by someone intentionally cutting through an earthen barrier with machinery.

Evacuations were also underway in Porterville along both banks of the Tule River due to erosion and high water levels, officials said. More than 100 people were in emergency shelters in Exeter, Ivanhoe and Porterville.


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