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Storms in Central and Northern California will have little effect on L.A. area

Storms in Central and Northern California will have little effect on L.A. area
Pedestrians walk in a light rain at UC Berkeley. Another major storm is forecast to soak the Bay Area on Monday. (Paul Chinn / The Chronicle)

A wave of storms is bringing rain and some flooding to Central and Northern California but will have little effect on the Los Angeles area over the next several days.

In Humboldt County, rivers and streams are at flood stage, sweeping over some low-lying fields, said meteorologist Ryan Aylward with the National Weather Service in Eureka. But so far, no residents have had to evacuate.

There are issues for travelers, including a rock slide that has closed Highway 299 near Big Bar.

Four to 7 inches of rain fell from 3 a.m. through about 5 p.m. Sunday.

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Rainfall is running ahead of normal for January, although "it's definitely normal for us to be getting lots of rain," Aylward said. "We're expecting rain throughout the rest of the week."

The middle of the state has a similar forecast, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

"We have a really strong, moist system," said meteorologist Craig Shoemaker. "You could call it an atmospheric river system."

One concern is flash flooding and mudslides in the burn areas from recent fires.

Shoemaker added: "We'll have a storm system, and then a day off, and then another storm system pretty much as far out as we can forecast over the next seven to eight days."

A succession of storms is typical for January and should not be considered an effect of El Niño, the Pacific weather pattern that could result in a heavy rain season near Los Angeles, Shoemaker said.

Rain clouds cover the top of the Golden Gate Bridge as they move across San Francisco Bay.
Rain clouds cover the top of the Golden Gate Bridge as they move across San Francisco Bay. (Michael Macor / The Chronicle)

For the moment, the rain is putting just a "small dent" in the drought, he said. The water content of the snowpack in the northern and central Sierra is above normal for this time of year, but it's a little below normal in the southern Sierra.

The gradually melting snowpack is a major source of state water and is needed to replenish low reservoirs.

The storms to the north will have a modest effect in the Southland, resulting in a chance of showers around midday Monday. The daytime high temperatures are a little cooler than usual, topping out in the low 60s, but within range for this time of year, said meteorologist Robbie Munroe with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

"As far as a stronger storm, at this point, it doesn't look like anything is on the horizon over the next seven days," Munroe said.

Since Oct. 1, Los Angeles has recorded 3.75 inches of rain. The average season-to-date total is just above 4 inches.

But an El Niño pattern could deliver its biggest precipitation punch in late January or February, meteorologists said.

Twitter: @howardblume

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