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Southern California may see some rain from Hurricane Norbert

The latest hurricane churning off the coast of Baja California could bring some rain and thunderstorms to parts of drought-stricken Southern California, forecasters said Friday.

As Hurricane Norbert slowly moves northwest along Mexico’s Baja peninsula, it could bring high surf and tides that could cause minor flooding, forecasters warned. The mountains and deserts have a greater chance of rain.

“Norbert is our latest great wet hope,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It wouldn’t be a drought buster, but it certainly would be refreshing, so I’m rooting for Norbert.”

Hurricane Norbert will bring with it a 50% to 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms this weekend in the mountains and deserts of San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said Stephen Harrison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

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But the possibility of a rainy weekend in Los Angeles — and most places outside the mountains and deserts — is slim, forecasters said. There is a roughly 20% chance of rain in the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The National Weather Service is warning of high surf and strong rip currents from Norbert through Monday, with the largest surf on Saturday and Sunday. The Norbert-generated swells could produce waves of 4 to 7 feet along south-facing beaches, with maximum sets of 10 feet, according to the weather service.

The surf won’t be as dramatic as last week, when Hurricane Marie, a Category 5 storm with sustained winds up to 157 mph, produced waves of more than 20 feet.

“Norbert is no Marie,” said Miguel Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. “But rip currents will be strong; swimming currents are going to be dangerous.”

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County lifeguard officials say they plan to maintain increased staffing in preparation for the big waves and a warm weekend.

“We’ve got large surf, a little bit of heat ahead — I don’t think people have gotten summer quite out of their system yet,” said Capt. Mike McIlroy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division. “We’re going to do the best to fill most of our lifeguard towers.”

McIlroy said beachgoers should try to swim near open lifeguard stations this weekend and to check with lifeguards before getting into the water.

Like Hurricane Marie, Norbert could cause some flooding Saturday through Monday during evening high tides, particularly along the low-lying south-facing beaches. The flooding, though, is expected to be minor, according to the weather service.

In Long Beach, city crews braced for the higher water levels by reinforcing sand berms along the Long Beach Peninsula and installing plugs in the Naples-area sea wall.

On Friday, inspectors were assessing damage to the breakwater fronting the Port of Long Beach, which sustained three breaches caused by waves from Hurricane Marie, said a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Even though the breakwater did experience some damage, it served its function,” said Greg Fuderer, an agency spokesman. “If that energy hadn’t been spent knocking big rocks around, it would’ve been spent knocking ships and piers around.”

Still, with swells from Norbert coming, there’s a possibility the breaches could grow if the waves are strong enough, Fuderer said.

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Norbert, the latest storm of a busy Eastern Pacific hurricane season, was positioned 110 miles south of Cabo San Lazaro on the Baja peninsula on Friday and moving northwest at about 8 mph, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.

hailey.branson@latimes.com
Twitter: @haileybranson


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