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Rain Expected to Be a Drop in the Bucket

Today's showers would add to totals already ahead of last year. Some predict ElNino's return.

November 30, 2002|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

Scattered rain and small thundershowers should continue falling across the Los Angeles Basin today as two modest Pacific storm systems move inland across Southern California.

The showers probably will last all day, but they won't be very heavy. Bill Hoffer, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the total rainfall probably won't be more than half an inch in most areas.

Snow levels will top 7,000 feet in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, which means winter sports enthusiasts will have to wait a while before strapping on skis at local mountain resorts.

The two storm systems lingered off the coast Friday, nudging just close enough to drop a few sprinkles on Los Angeles.

Only 0.03 of an inch of rain had fallen by nightfall Friday at the downtown reporting station at USC, raising the total for the season, which began July 1, to 2.39 inches. That's more than the normal total for the date of 1.83 inches, thanks largely to the heavy rains that fell here three weeks ago.

Other rainfall figures for Friday include 0.20 of an inch in Avalon, 0.05 in West Covina, 0.03 on Mt. Wilson and 0.02 in Venice and Redondo Beach.

Hoffer said the sprinkles were due largely to a small low-pressure system that formed west of San Diego, spinning slowly counter-clockwise and drawing in moisture from the ocean.

He said that system will merge today with a larger, offshore storm extending south from British Columbia. The combined systems mean a little more rain will fall today than on Friday, with sporadic showers lasting into the night. The cloud cover should start breaking up Sunday, with partly cloudy skies and warmer temperatures forecast through next week.

Although no major storm systems are expected to invade Southern California for at least the next 10 days, long-term forecasts call for a normal to wetter-than-normal winter in Los Angeles, largely because of the anticipated return of El Nino.

Warming sea-surface temperatures off the west coast of South America indicate a reappearance of the meteorological/oceanic phenomenon, which often is accompanied by heavier-than-normal rainfall in Los Angeles.

During the El Nino winter of 1997-98, 31.31 inches of rain fell on downtown Los Angeles, about twice as much as normal. Scientists caution that the approaching El Nino appears to be much less powerful, and some meteorologists say it could largely be canceled out by other systems.

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