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Alaskan Storm Is Poised to Strike L.A. : Weather: Expected downpour raises threat of mudslides in areas hit by last year's fires. Up to two inches of rain and a foot of snow in the mountains are predicted.


A potent storm from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to pummel Southern California with hail, snow, heavy rain and thunder late today, posing a renewed threat of destructive mudslides below hills denuded during last fall's devastating brush fires.

The storm, which could last through Sunday, is expected to drop up to two inches of rain in the Los Angeles area and as much as a foot of snow at mountain resorts.

"It's a pretty strong early-spring storm, stronger than usual for Southern California," said Bruce Thoren, a meteorologist with WeatherData Inc. "There's definitely a good possibility of mudslides in the burn areas. And it's going to be pretty cold, too, with the snow level down to 3,000 feet in some areas."

Forecasters said the storm--which struck Northern California late Wednesday and began working its way down the coast--is expected to move inland across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties sometime this afternoon, reaching Los Angeles before nightfall.

Thoren said the precipitation here will begin with light rain, shifting to heavier rain, with thunderstorms and hail during the night.

"Some of the thunderstorms could be severe," Thoren said. "That means winds at up to 55 m.p.h. and hail as big as three-quarters of an inch in diameter."

The National Weather Service said the rain will continue, off and on but occasionally heavy, through Friday and Saturday and possibly into Sunday.

"Storms like this are hard to gauge, but there's a pretty good moisture tap this time," Thoren said.

Temperatures are predicted to be cool during the rest of the week, with highs in the Los Angeles area ranging from the low 60s today to the mid-50s on Friday and Saturday. Highs at mountain resort levels should remain below freezing until the storm departs.

The high temperature at the Los Angeles Civic Center on Wednesday was 68 degrees, after an overnight low of 50. The season's rainfall total stood at 6.23 inches, less than half the norm of 12.99 inches for the date.

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