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Soggy Start Is Forecast Around O.C. for Today

Storms: Experts don't expect first real rain in five months to linger or cause mudslides. But motorists are urged to slow down.


The first significant rainstorm in five months was due to arrive in Orange County this morning and could dump up to three-quarters of an inch of rain in some cities.

"It'll be a good time to grab your umbrellas and raincoats," said Mark Mulholland, a meteorologist with WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times.

But the showers shouldn't linger. They are expected to dissipate later in the day, Mulholland said.

"It's a one-day event," he said.

The storm is the tail end of a cold front that swept through northern and central California on Tuesday. It helped firefighters douse a 4,430-acre wildfire in steep terrain near Big Sur but caused major power outages and slick highways, leading to traffic accidents in the San Francisco Bay area.

The last significant rainfall was May 24, when a rainstorm--unusual for that time of year--drenched areas in South County, causing several major traffic pile-ups.

Traffic officials in Orange County said they are bracing for tie-ups today.

"A lot of people think that they can drive at the same speed as they do when it's dry and that's just not true. . . . The most important thing is they need to slow down," said California Highway Patrol Officer Raul Malfavon.

Officials do not expect the rain to cause mudslides in the areas hit by wildfires last week. Slides usually occur when heavy rain falls in a short period over an area where soil has been burned into a fine dust.

"That didn't happen this time," said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service. "Those fires did not seem to have the same intensity."

Temperatures today are expected to range from the low 50s to the mid-60s, below normal for this time of year.

Mulholland said cloudy skies forecast for Thursday morning are expected to clear up by afternoon.

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