rain in Southern California
Cars on a rain-slicked freeway. Courtesy National Weather Service

A storm moving into the region Friday night will mark the beginning of a series of fronts that will sweep across Southern California over the next week, though it was too early to tell how much precipitation will fall and whether flooding might occur, particularly in burn-scarred areas, forecasters said Thursday.

According to the National Weather Service, an upper-level trough will produce showery activity in Southern California Friday night into Saturday morning, but rainfall amounts aren’t expected to exceed a half-inch in many area. Showers could return Sunday. Friday night rush-hour traffic could be a mess, and weekend slowdowns may also occur.

The low-impact rain event makes it unlikely that flooding, mud and debris flows will develop around Malibu burn areas and the Cleveland National Forest and communities at the foot of the reserve, including Lake Elsinore and the Temescal Valley, according to the county Emergency Management Department.

“Since weather can change, public safety officials will continue to monitor the incoming storms,” the agency stated. “Residents are urged to always be aware of their surroundings and take personal responsibility for their safety.”

Storm cells that crossed the area last week did not trigger any hazards, despite rainfall totals nearing an inch in some spots.

A wide area skirting the eastern boundary of the Cleveland National Forest was left exposed to potential flood and mud damage because of the 23,000-acre Holy Fire in August. The blaze, allegedly the work of an arsonist, denuded steep terrain below Santiago Peak, permitting water to flow unchecked onto lower slopes where subdivisions are situated.

Rains on Dec. 6 resulted in significant flooding and mud flows into several neighborhoods, prompting street closures and evacuations. There was no major damage to homes, however.

According to the NWS, after the trough moves east Saturday, additional atmospheric rivers will begin flowing across the region, beginning Monday or Tuesday, due to the jet stream dipping south.

“Periods of precipitation could linger into Friday (Jan. 18) as various waves move across California,” the Weather Service stated.

Forecasts vary as to rainfall potential with next week’s energy. Meteorologists said the inland area could see anywhere from one to two inches over three days, with some locations experiencing isolated heavy downpours.

The NWS is waiting for forecast models to sharpen before issuing advisories.

When precipitation is expected to result in storm-related hazards, the Emergency Management Department may issue voluntary evacuation orders. The agency posts mandatory orders when threats are confirmed.

More information is available at www.rivcoready.org.

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