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Spring storm targets Southern California with high winds and heavy rain


A wet and windy storm swept into California on Tuesday, promising to bring more rain, snow and heartache to residents of the Golden State on the second day of spring.

The low pressure system developed rapidly over the Pacific and made landfall along the Central Coast, where widespread rainfall and potentially damaging wind gusts of up to 70 mph are possible.

The greatest effects are expected in southern California as the cold system gains some subtropical moisture, a recipe for heavy rain. Flood watches and warnings They are in force throughout the Southand flooding on the roads and traffic jams were Reported in Los Angeles early tuesday.

“The heaviest rain will definitely be in Southern California, and Los Angeles and San Diego will likely see more rain from this storm than many other storms this winter,” UCLA climatologist Daniel Swain said during a briefing Monday.

The National Weather Service has issued high wind warnings from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo, as well as inland areas including Palmdale, Lancaster and Antelope Valley. The winds could topple unsecured objects and down trees, which could result in blocked roads, power outages, and structural damage.

Heavy rain is likely to cause rapid runoff and areas of flooding as the storm moves south on Tuesday. Heavy snowfall will also present dangers in the mountains of southern California, as well as the central and southern Sierra Nevada, where it could accumulate up to 4 feet at higher elevations.

“This additional snowfall will make travel more difficult and could affect infrastructure in areas that are still buried under record snowpack so far this year,” the weather service said. The snow cover in the Sierra Sur is in 225% of your normal for the dateaccording to state data.

In southern California, the storm is expected to gain strength and generate a cold front Tuesday afternoon, with high temperatures likely to dip to the 50s, 10 to 15 degrees below normal for the season. of the year, said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the weather service in Oxnard.

“There could be an excess of rain when the strongest part of the storm passes, so we will worry about flooding,” Sweet said. “We will also worry about high winds. The winds are really picking up in the coastal waters now, they’re seeing gusts on the order of 40 and 50 mph, so it looks like the storm is going to take on the winds.”

In the Los Angeles area, rainfall totals of up to 3 inches are possible along the coast and in valleys, and up to 5 inches in the foothills, Sweet said.

The storm comes after a season of wet and destructive weather, including a series of nine consecutive atmospheric river storms in January that contributed to the deaths of nearly two dozen people.

In late February and early March, historic blizzards dumped fresh dust as low as 1,000 feet, including on the Hollywood sign, trapping residents under feet of snow in the San Bernardino Mountains, where they died. at least 13 people.

More storms in recent weeks have brought levee breaches and devastating flooding, particularly in the Monterey County city of Pajaro and Tulare County communities near the Tule River, which have seen evacuations and widespread damage to the property as flood waters flowed from the swollen rivers.

Thousands of Tulare residents remained under evacuation orders Tuesday, including the Alpaugh and Allensworth areas and parts of Porterville along the Tule River, where officials remained concerned about rising river levels as they released water from Success Lake to make room for incoming flows.

The lake was at about 96% capacity, and officials were “continuing a high output to bring it down ahead of today’s rain and future snowmelt,” said Daniel Potter, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. , which is assisting with emergency operations and flood response in the area.

Hundreds of small levee breaks have been reported, including a breach that sent flooding to properties near Allensworth. At least seven structures have been completely destroyed, with more than 652 sustaining major damage and 177 sustaining minor damage. Nearly 24,000 structures remain threatened, according to Cal Fire.

Multiple small tears have been temporarily repaired with “super bags,” or bags of sand and rocks, Potter said. “We’re keeping an eye on a few other areas, but as of now everything looks good, we’re holding at the moment,” he said.

Tulare County Emergency Operations spokeswoman Carrie Monteiro said the county was vulnerable to flooding in part because of the severe drought that has plagued the region for more than a decade.

“So our waterways had not been tested with this type of water, the water that runs through them right now,” he said. “So we are preparing for the next storm. We are preparing to have the tools and resources we need on the ground. And ready to go in a meaningful way.”

The storm was also expected to bring up to 3 inches of rain in Orange County and the Inland Empire and up to 8 inches in the San Bernardino Mountains, along with snow at higher elevations.

“It’s a lot of rain, the storm is really strong,” said Casey Oswant, a meteorologist with the weather service in San Diego. “At low to mid elevations, we expect very strong winds coming from the south, which will really intensify the orographic component of the rain,” meaning it will produce a lot of rain over the mountains.

Part of the challenge is that the storm is coming down in an already saturated state, said Swain, a UCLA scientist. Although rainfall totals are not likely to break records for this storm, the preceding wet conditions may exacerbate flooding, erosion, and other hazards.

“It’s probably not an extreme storm individually, by historical standards,” Swain said. “But once again, another major event on top of all of the above is going to cause some major problems.”

Conditions are expected to improve across most of the state Thursday through Sunday, forecasters said. But another storm could hit as soon as next week.

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