Foreshadowed by gloomy skies Friday, an early winter storm was expected to move into Orange County overnight, bringing with it wind-driven thunderstorms, heavy surf and cooler temperatures.
Police, firefighters and other public safety agencies monitored bulletins late Friday for weather that could affect roads. Rain was expected to begin by early morning, become heavy at times through today and taper off late tonight.
"We may not get the heavier precipitation that you see with a typical winter storm, but there will be a good bit of moisture associated with this front," said Guy Pearson, a meteorologist with WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts to The Times.
Cold air moving with the storm system was expected to cause instability in the atmosphere, resulting in thunderstorms today, Pearson said. Across Orange County, 0.25 inch to 1.5 inches of rain was forecast.
Heavy surf advisories were posted Friday for Southern California and were expected to remain in effect today. Waves of five to seven feet are expected, water spouts are possible, and experts advised people who plan to surf, swim or fish today to be extremely cautious.
Strong breezes and periodically heavy winds should keep coastal areas free of fog, however.
While the cold air moving in could generate thunderstorms, the clouds will prevent the cold air from further chilling temperatures in Southern California, Pearson of WeatherData said.
"It's going to be a little cooler than what it's been the last few days," he said.
Lows tonight will range from the low 40s to the low 50s. Sunday should be sunnier and a few degrees warmer, but still windy.
"The sun and wind will cancel each other out," Pearson said.
Since July, Orange County has been slightly drier than normal, with about 1.6 inches of rain compared to an average of 1.72 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
In disaster-prone areas, police and fire departments kept a wary eye on the weather late Friday, but officials said they anticipated no serious problems, only a soggy day punctuated by thunder claps.
"We don't expect major accumulations, just rain and thunderstorm activity," Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Heacock said. "But we all know how that can change."