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Rain Soaks County; Mostly Dry Conditions Expected for Holiday

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Nearly an inch of rain fell Saturday in parts of Ventura County, but weather forecasters said Easter egg hunters should be greeted today with dry, partly sunny weather.

There is only a 10% chance of rain through 6 p.m. today, said meteorologist Bruce Rockwell of the National Weather Service in Oxnard. The forecast calls for a high temperature of about 60 degrees, with lows in the 50s.

Skies are expected to be partly cloudy, with winds ranging from breezy onshore to gusty several miles offshore.

“This storm is somewhat unusual being this strong this late in the year,” Rockwell said.

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Precipitation this late in the rain season is not unprecedented, Rockwell said. In 1997, the final rainfall of the season came on Feb. 1, but in 1995 there was measurable rainfall in June, he said.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, nearly an inch of rain had fallen at Matilija Dam, Upper Ojai and the Casitas recreation area.

The Casitas Dam area has recorded 53.54 inches of rain since Oct. 1. The old record was 51.13 inches in 1983.

The record rainfall at the Ventura County Government Center, set in 1941, is 39.95 inches. As of Saturday evening, the season total at the government center was 39.43 inches.

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Forecasters expect more rain this week but say the El Nino-influenced storms--those that pass over warm waters in the Pacific Ocean and increase in size and strength--should end before May.

“I would like to say for sure the next storm is going to be the last but I can’t,” Rockwell said. “The influence is supposed to end this month.”

Monday had been expected to be sunny with highs in the 60s, but another storm had about a 50% chance of reaching the county by Tuesday morning, Rockwell said.

The county’s law enforcement agencies reported about 20 crashes and fender-benders Saturday, none of them serious. Most of the incidents occurred in the Thousand Oaks area, said Capt. Ken Warren of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

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California Department of Transportation operator Eddie Sandoval said California 33 between San Antonio Street and Larmier Avenue in Upper Ojai remained closed for repairs due to major damage from mud and rock slides during previous storms.

For those headed to the county’s mountains today, Rockwell said 1 to 4 inches of snow was expected overnight between 4,500 and 6,000 feet. Above 6,000 feet, 12 inches of new snow was anticipated Saturday night.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, a light snow was falling at the Mt. Pinos Ranger District near Frazier Park, district spokeswoman Judy Reynolds said. The district is situated at 5,200 feet.

Meanwhile, those area restaurants offering patio seating were taking a wait-and-see attitude on the size of today’s Easter crowds.

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Plenty of indoor tables were being set at the Lobster Trap in Oxnard, where the annual holiday buffet draws hundreds of people.

“We’re packed solid. Every room is full,” said hostess Peggy Arnold of the restaurant’s reservation list.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

County Rainfall

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Here are rainfall figures from the Ventura County Flood Control Department for the 24-hour period ending at 8 p.m. Saturday. Oct. 1 is the beginning of the official rain year.

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Rainfall Rainfall Normal rainfall Location last 24 hours since Oct. 1 to date Camarillo 0.55 31.79 12.24 Casitas Dam 0.98 53.54 21.40 Casitas Rec. Center 0.98 52.62 21.48 Fillmore 0.51 39.33 17.33 Matilija Dam 0.94 56.44 24.42 Moorpark 0.04 31.40 13.44 Ojai 0.55 43.51 19.49 Upper Ojai 0.98 47.72 21.33 Oxnard 0.35 34.63 13.34 Piru 0.47 34.84 15.71 Port Hueneme 0.59 31.74 12.89 Santa Paula 0.67 37.88 16.23 Simi Valley 0.43 33.74 13.15 Thousand Oaks 0.63 30.53 14.05 Ventura Govt. Center 0.83 39.51 14.80

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