First Storm of 2019 to Hit SoCal Saturday — and It’s Expected to Be a ‘Good Rainmaker’

Nayer Shahram walks under a broken umbrella on Louise Avenue in Encino as traffic crawls along the 101 Freeway during a storm in early December, 2018. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Nayer Shahram walks under a broken umbrella on Louise Avenue in Encino as traffic crawls along the 101 Freeway during a storm in early December, 2018. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The first storm of the new year is set to blow through Southern California this weekend, bringing with it rain and snow, and prompting concerns about debris flows in recent burn areas.

The winter storm is expected to drench the area with up to 11/2 inches of precipitation between Saturday and Sunday morning, with higher amounts in foothill areas, forecasters said. Locally heavy rain rates are also possible.

Earlier this week, meteorologists said forecasting models showed the system will be a “good rainmaker” for the southern part of the state.

Mountain ski resorts above 5,000 feet can expect between four to six inches of snow, with up to 12 inches at higher elevations, according to the National Weather Service.

“This is a fairly large storm that will extend across the entire state,” Eric Kurth, a meteorologist with the weather service, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s going to be wet and cool.”

The storm could be similar to a powerful one that pounded Southern California last month, the Times reported. That one triggered several mudslides in Malibu – including one that spilled across the Pacific Coast Highway, forcing its temporary closure — and forced residents in recent burn areas across the region to evacuate their homes.

Forecasters indicated the upcoming storm could also cause flash floods, minor debris flows and rockslides in burn zones.

It was not immediately clear whether evacuations would be ordered in any of the burn areas ahead of the rain.

In Riverside County, officials on Friday noted that weather forecasts indicate the storm wouldn’t produce debris flows in the Holy and Cranston fire burn areas. Nevertheless,  they urged residents to be vigilant and monitor the situation.

The wet weather is also expected to impact roads, potentially creating slippery conditions and flooded streets, forecasters warned.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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