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Rain almost certain Sunday, thunderstorms possible

March 23, 2012 |  9:57 am

Storm

The good news: Forecasters no longer expect rain on Saturday.

The bad news: Rain is almost guaranteed on Sunday, and now weather specialists say the storm will be more powerful than initially anticipated.

An official from the National Weather Service said Friday that residents should expect a 90% chance of rain downtown Sunday, and forecasters predict a half-inch to 1½ inches of rainfall again this weekend.

That’s the same amount weather service officials predicted a week ago when the biggest storm of the winter pummeled the area Saturday. This time around, weather specialist Stuart Seto said, the rain will arrive Sunday morning, and that by the afternoon hours thunderstorms could arrive.

Officials say there’s a 20% chance of thunderstorms, which can bring “gusty winds, small hail, and brief heavy rains,” Seto said. He added that the key difference between this week’s storm and last week’s is a strong flow of moisture from the south that will elevate snow levels to about 5,000 feet.

The higher snow levels mean less hazardous road conditions, but Seto warned that wind gusts could peak at up to 55 mph in mountain passes. Downtown, in the San Fernando Valley and along the coast, gusts will top out around 25 mph, he said.

The high on Sunday is expected to be 58.

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--Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

Photo: Ruzanna Armenakyan braves gusty winds and rain in Sunland during Saturday's storm. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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