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Wet weather is expected to blow in today

December 27, 2006|Stuart Silverstein | Times Staff Writer

A fast-moving cold front is expected to speed through Southern California today, bringing wet weather, powerful winds and the potential for flash flooding in hillside areas charred by recent wildfires.

The chance of precipitation is greatest in mountain areas, where the snow level is likely to drop to 4,500 feet by the end of the storm. Up to 6 inches of snow is expected, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters said there was a 40% chance of showers -- mainly in the morning -- in the coastal areas and valleys. Scattered showers could also occur throughout the afternoon.

For the rain- and snow-wary, the good news is that any downpour should be brief. The cold front, which originated in the Gulf of Alaska, "is moving so fast that, although there's an abundant amount of precipitation with it, it won't drop that much" in the Southland, said Bill Hoffer, a spokesman in the weather service's Oxnard office. He said rainfall totals should range from one-half to 1 inch.

Along with the flash flood warnings and a high surf advisory, weather officials also issued high wind watches or warnings for most valley and mountain areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Sustained winds are predicted to be 25 mph to 35 mph, with gusts expected to exceed 60 mph in some areas today. Even stronger winds are forecast for Thursday, with gusts over 70 mph.

The coastal Los Angeles County forecast for today also calls for a low of about 50 degrees and a high in the mid-60s.

Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy in the morning, with the skies clearing later in the day and remaining clear at least through Tuesday. Thursday's high is forecast to reach the mid-60s, and the low is expected to dip to the upper-40s at night.

Hoffer said downtown Los Angeles had received 11.4 inches of precipitation in 2006 as of Tuesday, versus a norm of about 15 inches.

The same system brought winds of up to 128 mph to the Sierra on Tuesday. Gusts over 70 mph grounded planes in Reno and toppled trucks in western Nevada. More than a foot of snow was expected in the mountains.

The strongest gust on Slide Mountain, southwest of Reno, was recorded Tuesday afternoon, about the same time winds hit 81 mph in Washoe Valley, blowing over at least three tractor-trailers.

Winds in the 60 mph range delayed arrivals and departures at the Reno airport and forced at least three cancellations, airport spokesman Brian Kulpin said.

Snow was expected to accumulate up to 4 inches in western Nevada foothills, with an inch or so possible on the valley floors.

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stuart.silverstein@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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