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Officials warn powerful weekend storm could cause flooding, downed trees

March 18, 2011 |  6:29 pm

The National Weather Service is warning that the second of two rain storms moving into Southern California this weekend could result in flooding, possible mudslides and winds strong enough to down trees and power lines.

Only light rain is expected from the first storm, which could hit late Friday or early Saturday.

But "a much stronger and wetter system will affect the region Sunday through early Monday, bringing very strong and possibly damaging southerly winds, heavy rain and mountain snow to much of the area," the NWS said in a bulletin. "The heaviest precipitation is expected late Sunday into early Monday. The exact timing is still somewhat in question, and may change based on new forecast model guidance. Rainfall amounts Sunday through early Monday are expected to average 2 to 4 inches in coastal and valley areas, and 4 to 8 inches in the foothills and mountains below 5,000 feet."

Officials predicted the snow level could drop to 4,000 feet, possibly jamming traffic on the Grapevine.

"Strong south winds will affect much of the region Sunday afternoon through Sunday night, possibly causing downed trees and power lines," the NWS said. "Widespread urban and roadway flooding is possible at lower elevations late Sunday through early Monday. Minor mud and debris flows are possible in and below recent burn areas."

-- Shelby Grad and Paul Duginski