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Strongest rainstorm in a decade expected to hit Southland

The storm, on a 'conveyor belt right toward California,' is poised to drop several inches of rain just in time to wreak havoc on the last shopping weekend before Christmas.

December 18, 2010|By Martha Groves and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Time

A storm expected to be one of the strongest to hit Southern California in a decade was poised to drop several inches of rain just in time to wreak havoc on the last shopping weekend before Christmas.

"This storm has a very good tap into subtropical moisture," said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Oxnard office. He said the large system over the central Pacific was on a "conveyor belt right toward California."

Through Sunday, the region can expect 4 to 7 inches of rain in the foothills and mountains and 1 to 3 inches in coastal and valley areas, Boldt said. A short break is possible Monday before an additional 5 to 10 inches arrive Tuesday and Wednesday.

"This could be one of the largest storm systems we've had in the last 10 years," Boldt said. "The winds are going to be out of the south or southwest, going up-slope, which increases rainfall for mountain slopes and foothills."

The snow level, however, will be fairly high at 8,000 feet because the storm is a relatively warm one, Boldt said.

Because Los Angeles County crews fear flooding in the foothills, county roads in the Station fire burn area will be closed beginning Sunday.

The Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road are scheduled to be closed at 2 a.m. Sunday. Residents will not be permitted to use the roads until they are reopened, the Department of Public Works said.

Forecasters with the weather service say the heaviest rainfall of the weekend will begin Saturday night and continue through Sunday morning, with rain falling as much as half an inch per hour in the foothills.

"The threat of additional heavy rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday on top of soils that may be approaching saturation could cause some flooding and rockslide concerns," the weather service said.

Residents living in areas burned by the Station fire should move their cars off the streets and monitor news reports and the county's public works website, http://dpw.lacounty.gov/care, for updates.

A slow-moving rainstorm in February triggered damaging flooding in La CaƱada Flintridge. A blocked drain caused a torrent of muddy water to flow into more than 40 homes and pushed parked cars down Ocean View Boulevard.

martha.groves@latimes.com

ron.lin@latimes.com

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