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Scattered showers fall on Southern California. Another, ‘fairly strong’ storm is brewing

Scattered showers fall on Southern California. Another, ‘fairly strong’ storm is brewing
Gonsalo Garcia, right, pumps accumulated rainwater to prevent further erosion on a sliding hillside in Canyon Country on March 2. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

After a short reprieve, light showers returned to Southern California over the weekend, as residents braced for a stronger storm system expected to hit the region next week.

Residents will continue to see scattered showers throughout Sunday as a weak weather system moves through the region, with only about a quarter of an inch or less of rain predicted for most areas, according to the National Weather Service.

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Pedestrians walk in the rain at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2019.
Pedestrians walk in the rain at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2019. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“All eyes are really on another system for the middle part of next week,” said Todd Hall, a meteorologist with the weather service. “Right now, that’s looking like the potential for a fairly strong storm system to bring 1 to 3 inches of rain in Southern California.”

The rain is expected to start up again on Tuesday and continue through Wednesday, officials said.

In one Canyon Country neighborhood, work crews covered a hillside with plastic tarps and sandbags over the weekend to help prevent a mudslide. A storm last month caused an area hillside to collapse and led to some homes being yellow tagged.

Livier Lopez, her sister and her parents are preparing to possibly evacuate their home in the neighborhood, where they have lived more than two years. Three of their neighbors’ homes have been yellow tagged, which restricts use of a dwelling, and another neighbor left voluntarily.

Visitors to Old Chinatown walk in the rain on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2019.
Visitors to Old Chinatown walk in the rain on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2019. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The brick wall behind Lopez’s home is cracked but isn’t “actually damaged enough for us to leave yet.” The wall cracked Feb. 22 after a storm moved through the area and the crack was slowly getting bigger, Lopez said.

“We’re just concerned because the mountain might come down at any moment,” Lopez said.

If it does, the family and their seven pets — including three dogs and four cats — will have to evacuate.

“That’s our main concern, is our pets. Are we going to be here when it happens? Are we going to be able to get them all out in time,” Lopez said. “We’re just standing by watching the backyard.”

Weekend rain and gusty winds

The latest winter storm is expected to drop between three-quarters of an inch to just over an inch of rain in Los Angeles County through the weekend.

Some areas at higher elevations could see up to 2 inches of precipitation. Orange and San Diego counties are expected to be a bit drier, with most areas likely receiving less than an inch of rain. The Santa Ana Mountains could see a bit more, according to the National Weather Service.

Joshua Reyes, left, Jasmine Sandoval and Samantha Sandoval take in the view of downtown Los Angeles from Elysian Park on a rainy Saturday, Mar. 2, 2019.
Joshua Reyes, left, Jasmine Sandoval and Samantha Sandoval take in the view of downtown Los Angeles from Elysian Park on a rainy Saturday, Mar. 2, 2019. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Although the storm, which will also bring gusty winds that could reach 20 to 40 mph in some areas, has tapped into subtropical moisture, it likely won’t pack the same moisture punch that the region has seen with recent systems.

“We do expect some significant rainfall out of it, but nothing on the scale which we’ve seen in other storms this season,” said Philip Gonsalves, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

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Damage estimates

Gonsalves said this system didn’t carry the same level of moisture as the atmospheric rivers that have hammered California this winter. Those storms 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 don’t expect the rain to fall at a rate that can trigger large-scale debris flows or mudslides in recent burn areas. They said, however, minor flooding is possible.

Local snow levels are expected to remain around 9,000 feet through Saturday before dropping to 7,000 feet on Sunday, although at least one ski report was predicting as much of 10 inches of snow for Bear Valley.

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