More storms, lighter rain in Southern California's future

Another series of rainstorms is expected in Southern California over the next five days, though forecasters say they will pale in comparison to the rain, hail and wind that slammed the region this week.

On Saturday, about a tenth of an inch of rain is expected to fall across the Southland as a cold front moves in from the north, said National Weather Service meteorologist Emily Thornton. The bulk of the rain is predicted to land along the Central Coast.

Temperatures will hover in the 50s during the day and 40s at night through the middle of next week though temperatures could approach freezing in the high desert, Thornton said.

Light rain is also expected Monday and another storm could roll through on Wednesday, Thornton said. It will be minuscule compared with the inches dumped across the mountains and valleys this week, she said.

“The next couple [of storms] are weak. We’ll just have to wait for the next one,” Thornton said.

In the meantime, homeowners and public agencies across the region are assessing how they handled the first major El Niño storms of the season.

This week's storms caused some flooding of roadways and freeways, with relatively modest mudslides in areas recently burned by fires.

But overall, the infrastructure held up despite intense downpours in some areas.

"We will be looking at the modeling and how the water actually flowed," said Stephen Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, "but I haven't heard of any trouble spot locations that emerged as a surprise from the storm."

This week was marked by three El Niño storms in a row coming in from the Pacific.

L.A. County's public works agency continues to focus special attention in parts of Azusa and Glendora near where the Colby fire burned 1,952 acres in 2014, Frasher said. Ventura County officials are keeping an eye on several areas there that were recently burned, notably around Solimar Beach. Mudflows from that burn zone created problems Wednesday on the 101 Freeway.

From a scientific standpoint, Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said this week was a "textbook" El Niño system.

He noted the storms' single-file formation over the Pacific, like jetliners queuing for an airport landing. Once they made landfall, the rain fell at a clip faster than during the two previous big El Niño periods in 1997-98 and 1982-83, Patzert said.

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More than 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in four days in downtown Los Angeles this week, according to the National Weather Service. In 1998, it rained only four inches downtown for all of January; in 1983, rainfall for the month hit nearly seven inches, Patzert said.

Based on this, the 2016 El Niño — so far at least — is shaping up to be impressive, he said.

Times staff writer Garrett Therolf contributed to this report.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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