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Light drizzle falls on L.A. as Southern California prepares for days of rain

Light drizzle falls on L.A. as Southern California prepares for days of rain
Southern California is preparing for rain expected to roll in to the area by Wednesday. In this May file photo, a pedestrian walks along Foothill Boulevard in La Crescenta under the cover of an umbrella during a rainstorm. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The first significant rain of the season hit the Bay Area early Tuesday while Southern California was preparing for its share of the storm, which is expected to roll in by Wednesday.

A low-pressure system making its way through the northern part of the state will bring precipitation from the coast to the mountains, with rain expected to last until early Thursday.

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Most urban regions of the Bay Area saw light rain Tuesday, while wine country in Napa and Sonoma counties received more significant showers measuring up to about an inch and a half, said Matt Mehle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Francisco.

“As far as rainfall amounts for the area, it’s not much,” he said.

In addition to inevitable car crashes and traffic jams that often accompany wet weather in California, authorities in San Rafael — just north of San Francisco — grappled with other damage during Tuesday’s showers. The San Rafael Fire Department is investigating whether rain is to blame for a roof partially collapsing at a HomeGoods store. No one was injured in the incident.

The San Rafael Fire Department responded to a roof collapse at a HomeGoods store Tuesday morning. Officials are investigating whether rain caused the incident.
The San Rafael Fire Department responded to a roof collapse at a HomeGoods store Tuesday morning. Officials are investigating whether rain caused the incident. (San Rafael Fire Department)

Some communities in Los Angeles reported light drizzle early Tuesday, but significant showers aren’t expected to arrive for several more hours.

Up to a half-inch of rain could fall in areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Orange and San Luis Obispo counties, forecasters said. The lower desert area, including Palm Springs, could see up to an inch of rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.

Remnants from the now-downgraded Tropical Cyclone Rosa, which traveled from northern Baja California to Arizona, were expected to bring heavy rain and thunderstorms to inland areas in San Diego and Riverside counties on Tuesday, but that prediction didn’t materialize, said Jimmy Taeger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

“The potential was there, but we didn’t get the widespread rain like Arizona did,” he said.

The lack of significant rain from Rosa in the area was a relief for residents who live near the area recently ravaged by the Cranston fire in Idyllwild. Riverside County officials had been warning communities near the burn area for days to prepare for possible mudslides.

Late Monday, the Riverside County Emergency Management Department issued a voluntary evacuation warning for Hurkey Creek, Lake Hemet, Apple Canyon and Fleming Ranch, but lifted it several hours later. Members of the California National Guard were stationed in the area Tuesday in preparation for possible mudslides.

It was lightly drizzling in Mountain Center, one of the small communities in the San Jacinto Mountains that was in the direct path of the Cranston fire earlier this year, by Tuesday morning. The fire — which officials believe was caused by arson — burned 13,139 acres and threatened almost 5,000 homes in July and August. Thousands evacuated their homes as the fire raged.

Longtime resident Josh Whitney, 69, was mainly concerned Tuesday about whether mudslides would close state routes 74 and 243, two-lane winding highways that serve as the main escape routes for the area. During the Cranston fire, Whitney stayed in Mountain Center with his son, Noah, and together, they defended their homes, even when they were surrounded by flames. The family has spent years clearing their land in anticipation of fire.

Whitney said he expects his neighborhood on McCall Park Road will likely make it through the rain, because it’s on high enough ground. But just in case, he stocked up on extra groceries and water and placed a few straw wattles — four-inch barriers that resemble hoses made of straw and hay — around his house.

“I’m not worried about it too much, but the highways are definitely going to be dangerous,” Whitney said. “Maybe there’s a few homes [threatened], but most of the homes in Mountain Center have been there a while and have seen this movie before.”

The National Weather Service on Monday also canceled a flash flood warning for the Orange County and Riverside County areas affected by the Holy fire. However, local officials continued to urge their communities to be prepared for the possibility of mudslides, use sandbags to protect their homes and keep tabs on evacuation announcements during the rain.

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“It’s something we’re going to be watching all season,” Orange County Public Information Manager Molly Nichelson said of the potential for mudslides.

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