New storm system will bring more rain to Southern California through Wednesday

Satellite geocolor composite of the West Coast of the United States on Saturday.

As gray skies hung over most of Southern California on Saturday, the National Weather Service issued its predictions for the latest storm system that will affect the Central Coast and Southern California through Wednesday.

Light rain is expected to fall in Los Angeles County late Saturday, developing into moderate showers Sunday afternoon and evening and continuing with heavy showers through Wednesday. Orange County and the Inland Empire will start to feel the storm’s effect on Monday.

Compared with the system that brought record rainfall to the Los Angeles region on Feb. 4, “we’re looking at quite a bit less,” said meteorologist Dave Gomberg with the National Weather Service. Yet he added, “from Ventura County northward, those amounts could be fairly similar.”

While meteorologists have been tracking this system for the last few days, they have been uncertain where the brunt of the storm will hit. The engine driving the system across the central Pacific is the jet stream — high-altitude winds in excess of 200 mph — which is expected to slow as it approaches the coast, bringing uncertainty to the forecast until now.


We’re on track for “2 to 5 inches widespread,” Gomberg said, “with 4 to 8 inches in the mountains and foothills [and] with isolated totals up to 10 inches in the Santa Lucia and Santa Ynez ranges.”

While the rainfall amounts may be less than the previous storm, he added, the system will bring higher-intense showers, falling at a rate of a half to 1 inch per hour.

The news is especially worrisome given the soaking that the Southland has received this month. With saturated soils, the prospect of flooding, landslides and mudflows increases.

“It will not take very much rain to cause significant problems in the next few days,” Gomberg said, citing in particular the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills.

Statewide, a flood watch alert has been issued for a broad swath of the coast from Big Sur to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and as far inland as the eastern San Gabriel Mountains.

High surf — with waves up to 20 feet — is also expected along the Central Coast with an 8- to 15-foot swell south of Point Conception, which will affect southwest-facing beaches on Tuesday.

Gomberg predicted a “stronger wind event” in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties with gusts between 20 and 40 mph and “locally damaging winds” in L.A. County.

“And again it’s not going to take too much wind with this event because of saturated soils … to see quite a few downed trees,” Gomberg said.


The storm will initially bring from 1 to 3 feet of snow at elevations above 7,500 feet. By Tuesday, as temperatures drop, so will snow levels, bringing 1 to 4 inches to 6,500 feet.

A winter storm warning has already been issued for the southern Sierra Nevada.

Once the system has passed, the state will have a few days to wring itself out before the arrival of another possible system next weekend, Gomberg said, this time coming out of the north and potentially colder.