A strong storm, possibly "the most significant" one of the season so far, is barreling toward Southern California and is expected to bring heavy rain to the area Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Light to moderate rain will likely begin falling in the southwest part of California Thursday as a weakening cold front approaches, but the heaviest precipitation isn't expected until the following day, forecasters said.
"The Friday storm in particular could in fact become the strongest of the season in the Los Angeles region,” UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain told the L.A. Times.
Heavy rain could last into early Saturday.
Initial estimates indicate the possibility of 2 to 4 inches of rain for coastal and valley areas, with the potential for up to 8 inches on south-facing mountain slopes from southern Santa Barbara extending southward, according to the weather service.
The L.A. metropolitan area could also receive between 2 to 4 inches of rain, according to Ryan Kittell, a forecaster with the weather service in Oxnard.
“The raw numbers don’t look that scary, but if we get the bulk of that coming over a small period, that will cause a lot of issues,” Kittell said in an interview with the Times. He added much of the rain could come within a 12-hour period, falling at a rate of over an inch per hour.
Potential impacts from widespread heavy rain include flooding in urban areas and small streams, as well as flash flooding with mud and debris flows, especially in recent burn areas, the weather service warned. Rockslides along canyon walls are also possible.
Reduced visibilities and slicks roads caused by the wet weather will likely result in travel delays, according to forecasters.
They noted the possibility of winter driving conditions down to 6000 feet from late Friday into Saturday.
Additionally, the storm system is expected to bring strong and potentially damaging winds, which could lead to downed trees and power lines.