An intense new Pacific storm blew into Southern California late Sunday with a threat of high wind in the desert, heavy snowfall in the mountains, thunderous surf along the coast--and new mud slides and flooding in the burned-over hills of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
The National Weather Service said the worst should be over by this afternoon.
But clouds and showers were expected for the rest of the week.
Flash-flood watches were in effect late Sunday for eastern Santa Barbara and western Ventura counties, where last summer's brush fires stripped soil-holding vegetation from thousands of acres. The soil was already saturated from the nearly two inches of rain that fell there Saturday, and the weather service said another inch or two could fall before dawn.
The Sheriff's Departments in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties said they are ready to aid with evacuations if necessary.
Two to four inches of moisture were expected in Southern California's mountains, but meteorologists said it would fall in the form of snow anywhere above 5,500 feet--which might be good news for ski resorts that have been long on rain and short on snow for most of this winter season.
The wind forecasts were bad news for everyone, though. Forecasters said the northern mountains and deserts can expect south to southwest winds gusting to 40 or 45 m.p.h. overnight and this morning, shifting west and dying away to a mere 30 m.p.h. through Tuesday. Camper and trailer travel was not advised.
Wind Along Coast
There was plenty of wind along the coast, too. Small craft advisories were in effect Sunday for southeast winds to 20 knots--with gusts to 45 knots and above--from Point Conception to the Mexican border. These winds were expected to shift west northwest and drop back to about 30 knots today and tonight, but forecasters said combined seas generated by the storm could rise to 18 feet by tonight.
The storm also produced a heavy surf advisory for breakers to nine feet (with some sets rising to 13 feet) expected to hit most west-facing beaches by tonight. The weather service said damage to shore structures should be minimal, however, since the highest tide will be about five feet at 9:30 p.m. today.
High temperature at Los Angeles Civic Center on Sunday was 65, with relative humidity ranging from 48% to 89%. The weather service said it should be two or three degrees cooler today, with a 60% chance of rain.
Forecasters said the storm should ease off a bit by afternoon, though scattered showers were expected to hang around until Tuesday. The long-range forecast called for continued cloudiness and rain with periods of gusty wind through Friday.