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New flood warnings issued as L.A. braces for heavy rains

December 18, 2010 |  7:59 am


The National Weather Service has issued new warnings of heavy rain and potential mudslides and flooding as a series of powerful storms moves through Southern California.

A flood watch was issued for areas burned in brush fires as a combination of powerful storm fronts and subtropical moisture will combine to dump up to 8 inches of rain in some spots over the next few days.

According to the NWS, the heavy rains will hit Saturday night and continue through Sunday, with Sunday morning and afternoon seeing particularly heavy downpours. There might be a lull Sunday night and Monday morning. But a new series of storms is forecast to continue through Tuesday. Officials say the flood warning could remain through Tuesday.

[Updated at 9:11 a.m.: The California Highway Patrol reported some freeway flooding on Interstate 5 southbound at the 14 interchange.]

"This storm has a very good tap into subtropical moisture," said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Oxnard office. Boldt said the large system over the central Pacific was on a "conveyor belt right toward California."

Through Sunday, the region can expect 4 to 7 inches of rain in the foothills and mountains and 1 to 3 inches in coastal and valley areas, Boldt said.  An additional 5 to 10 inches is expected to arrive Tuesday and Wednesday.
"This could be one of the largest storm systems we've had in the last 10 years," Boldt said. "The winds are going to be out of the south or southwest, going up-slope, which increases rainfall for mountain slopes and foothills."

The snow level, however, will be fairly high at 8,000 feet because the storm is a relatively warm one, Boldt said.

Because Los Angeles County crews fear flooding in the foothills, county roads in the Station fire burn area will be closed beginning Sunday.

The Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road are scheduled to be closed at 2 a.m. Sunday. Residents will not be permitted to use the roads until they are reopened, the Department of Public Works said.

-- Martha Groves and Rong-Gong Lin II

Map: National Weather Service; Photo: Mel Melcon / L.A. Times