Winter Storm Threatens Southland

Times Staff Writer

A powerful Pacific storm was moving slowly toward Southern California today, threatening the region with heavy downpours and wind gusts of up to 70 mph in some areas.

Only scattered showers were expected this afternoon across much of the Los Angeles area, but morning commuters tomorrow should prepare themselves for steady rain and high winds that are expected to last for more than a day, according to forecasters.

"People will see some wet roads [tonight], but tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon will be the worst," said Mike Wofford, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.

The weather service, which issued a flash-flood watch for much of the region, warned that rainfall amounts could total up to 5 inches in the coastal areas and more than twice that on south-facing mountain slopes, where burn areas are still vulnerable to flooding and mudslides. Meanwhile, high surf driven by gale-force winds will threaten south-facing beaches, such as Malibu.

The storm, about 600 miles west of Southern California, will pack stronger winds and last longer than the storms that hit the area in November, according to Wofford. Possible wind gusts as strong as 70 mph in the mountains and up to 50 mph in coastal areas prompted the weather service to post a high wind warning for many mountain areas and a gale warning for coastal waters.

The storm could also bring heavy thunderstorms, up to two feet of snow at the highest mountain elevations, and waterspouts off the coast.

The storm is expected to taper off in the Los Angeles area by late Tuesday or early Wednesday, according to forecasters. But conditions were expected to remain unstable for the remainder of the week, with cloudy to partly cloudy conditions and chance of showers predicted through New Year's Day.


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