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Another atmospheric river takes aim at L.A. amid an already-damp start to March

Another atmospheric river takes aim at L.A. amid an already-damp start to March
Visitors to downtown Los Angeles' Chinatown walk in the rain Saturday. Another atmospheric river-fueled storm is expected to hit Southern California on Tuesday. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

After a drizzly weekend, Southern California is bracing for a stronger storm that forecasters expect will dump rain on much of the region through Friday.

Scattered showers that had dampened the Southland over the weekend disappeared by early Monday, but forecasters say the reprieve won’t last long. An atmospheric river-fueled storm packed with subtropical moisture that’s currently over the Pacific Ocean is set to arrive in California on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Forecasters predict the strongest section of the storm will hit San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and weaken slightly before moving toward Los Angeles.

“However, the exact location of the axis of heaviest rain will be dependent upon where the atmospheric river sets up and stalls for a while,” the weather service wrote.

Rain is expected to be heaviest across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties Tuesday afternoon and evening before moving through Ventura County later that night. Los Angeles County will begin to see some rain by Wednesday afternoon.

The atmospheric river is expected to drop 1 to 2 inches of rain in Los Angeles County, and between 2 and 4 inches along the Central Coast. If easterly winds kick up, it could limit rainfall in coastal areas, according to the weather service.

Atmospheric rivers have boosted the state’s water supply and snowpack, but have also caused mudslides and dumped enough moisture to overflow rivers and flood communities in Northern California. Forecasters said rain rates with this storm have the potential to trigger minor flooding and debris flows in some recent burn areas, including the land scorched last year by the Woolsey fire. No evacuations have been issued.

Warm air that is expected to accompany the storm will keep snow levels high — generally above 7,500 or 8,000 feet — for the bulk of the storm before dropping to around 5,000 feet late Thursday.

Scattered showers are predicted to linger through Friday. So far, the outlook for Saturday appears to be dry, but forecasters say another storm could hit Sunday.

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