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THE REGION

Year's First Substantial Rain, Snow on the Way

January 26, 2002|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The first substantial rain and snow of the year are expected this weekend as a cold winter storm sweeps down the coast and into Southern California.

National Weather Service forecasters said that after increasing cloudiness today, rain should start falling in the Los Angeles area late Sunday morning, with showers off and on until early Monday.

"This storm won't be a heavy rainmaker, but things will get wet," with up to half an inch of rain in the valleys and up to an inch in the foothills, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist for the agency. "The big thing will be the cooler air moving in behind it."

Temperatures will plunge Sunday night, with snow levels dipping as low as 1,500 feet in the coldest parts of the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and Tehachapi mountains, forecasters said.

That could spell trouble for overnight motorists on Interstate 5 in the Tejon Pass and on Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass, both of which are above 4,000 feet.

But the snow should delight skiers, with as much as 6 inches expected at resorts above 5,000 feet.

The weather service said there could even be a dusting of light snow in the foothills above Altadena, La Canada Flintridge and Monrovia.

Wind chills should become dangerously low by Monday, the weather service said.

Skies are expected to be clear Monday afternoon, but temperatures will remain cold, with lows dipping to near freezing Tuesday morning in parts of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

By Friday, another storm system could bring more rain and snow.

January, normally one of the wettest months in Southern California, has been unusually dry this year, with only .12 of an inch of rain falling in downtown Los Angeles since Jan. 1.

The rainfall total for the period from July 1 through June 30 is only 2.98 inches, less than half the normal of 6.26 inches by this time.

Long-term forecasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration call for normal to somewhat below-normal rainfall through April.

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