Series of Storms Likely to Bring Rainy Weekend and New Year’s : Weather: Heavy surf arrives in advance of the first downpour. Some county beaches should get waves up to 8 feet.
Heavy surf began pounding the Southern California coast Thursday ahead of the first in a series of intense Pacific storms expected to bring rain this weekend, New Year’s Day and beyond.
Swells up to 8 feet are expected to hit some Orange County beaches, which could also receive up to an inch of rain before it’s over, said meteorologist Gary Newmann of the National Weather Service.
While the main force of the first storm is expected to hit Northern and Central California, Stephanie Hunter, a meteorologist with WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times, said communities in Orange and Los Angeles counties should get between a quarter and half an inch of rain over the weekend for starters.
Hunter said a second storm, farther out in the Pacific, should reach the Southland on New Year’s Day, bringing “a good shot” of more rain during the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl game.
“The way things look now, there could be rain on and off for the next week and a half or so,” Hunter said.
Huntington Beach lifeguard Steve Reuter said rubber rescue boats were being readied for emergencies. The National Weather Service predicted 5- to 6-foot waves with occasional swells up to 8 feet today and Saturday.
Reuter warned surfers and swimmers not to go into the water if the surf becomes extremely rough. He urged beach-goers to check with lifeguards about surf conditions and riptides.
Newmann said the storm could be accompanied by 20-m.p.h. winds along the coast and gusts up to 40 m.p.h. in the mountains.
Highs today and Saturday in Orange County were expected to be in the 60s, with lows at night in the 50s and 40s. It was expected to be cooler Saturday.
Meteorologists say it is still too early to say whether the storms are a sign that California’s prolonged drought may finally be coming to an end, but some forecasters say a normal rainy season is possible.
The first storm is expected to bring heavy rain to Central and Northern California, with totals of an inch or more expected in some coastal and foothill communities. Substantial snowfall is forecast along the Sierra at altitudes above 5,000 feet.
More heavy rain and snow are expected in Central and Northern California as the series of storms continue to blow in from the west, the Weather Service said.
The Sierra snowpack--which provides much of the water used by Californians during the long, dry summer season--still remains at only 47% of normal for this time of year, but the Weather Service said there is still a good chance of normal precipitation for the overall winter wet season.
The Weather Service said that temperature and wind measurements indicate the development of a moderate El Nino condition in the eastern Pacific.
Moderate El Ninos usually lead to continuing Pacific storms that bring normal precipitation to Northern and Central California from January through March, the Weather Service said.
Sprinkles from the first storm should start falling here before midnight tonight, with the heaviest rainfall on Saturday, Hunter said. Occasional showers are forecast through Sunday, with generally clear skies on Monday and Tuesday before the arrival of the next storm.
The high in Anaheim on Thursday was 63 and the low there was 48. In South County, San Juan Capistrano had a high of 66 and a low of 37.
For today, the high in Dana Point was expected to be 64, with a low tonight of 48, while El Toro was expected to have a high of 66 and a low of 46. Santa Ana’s high was expected to hit 67, with a low of 49, and Newport Beach was expected to have a high of 60 and a low of 50.