Weather Front Is the First of Three for Southland : Showers Bring Hint of Even Wetter Days Ahead

Times Staff Writer

The first of a series of wet weather fronts moved into Southern California from the Pacific on Monday, flinging a few rain showers along the coastal strip and mountains and offering the promise of more--and wetter--storms to come during the next few days.

Streets and freeways in Central Los Angeles had received only a sprinkling of rain by nightfall Monday.

The storm system had hit locations nearer the coast a bit harder by late afternoon.

By 4 p.m., the National Weather Service said, .59 of an inch of rain had fallen at Santa Barbara, .40 of an inch at Santa Catalina, .16 at Woodland Hills, .11 at Santa Ana, .07 at Long Beach and .05 at Santa Monica, Palomar Mountain and Riverside.

As night descended, scattered showers were reported on a line from the San Bernardino Mountains to Daggett and Needles.

Weather experts said it was all because the wind changed.

"Upper-level winds over the ocean have evidently become more westerly," said Cary Schudy, meteorologist-spokesman for Earth Environment Service, a private weather service based in San Francisco.

"Previously, this part of the coast was guarded by a ridge of high pressure stretching from the Pacific to the Great Basin. But things changed radically over the weekend, and now you've got an almost perpendicular system, north-and-south along the coast from Vancouver Island to Point Conception.

"It's a weak system and moving rapidly eastward, but the one following it should contain quite a bit more rain and there's a third storm lined up to take its turn by the end of the week."

Schudy said the chance of more rain from Monday's system should drop to about 10% overnight in the Los Angeles area, with skies clearing to partial cloudiness this afternoon. But more clouds were scheduled for arrival tonight with the chances of rain rising to 40% Wednesday morning.

The weather service agreed, adding a prediction of scattered showers in parts of the Los Angeles Basin tonight, snow in the mountains above 7,000 feet and more rain in the high desert Wednesday.

High temperature at Los Angeles Civic Center on Monday reached 69 degrees, with relative humidity ranging from 36% to 61%, and the overnight low of 60 degrees tied the old high minimum temperature record for the day, set in 1945.

About the same temperature was forecast for today.

And the South Coast Air Quality Management District said the cooler weather and precipitation should also assure a day or so of relatively clear air and good breathing for the entire Los Angeles Basin.

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