A new storm may bring a half-inch of rain to coastal and valley areas Saturday, and up to one inch in the mountains - but it does not immediately appear to pose a major threat to the Oscars or to communities below the Station Fire burn area, forecasters said today.
The lion's share of rainfall is now expected "Saturday evening into Sunday," later than previous forecasts indicated, National Weather Service Meteorologist Curt Kaplan said this morning.
But Kaplan was cautious, saying the forecast "could change. We'll be in contact with the public works and fire departments later today."
In Los Angeles County, the heaviest rainfall from the incoming weather system likely will occur over the eastern San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, according to a forecast discussion posted by the Weather Service this morning.
Earlier forecasts had indicated a stronger storm was approaching, with a 50 percent chance of rain after midnight tonight – now reduced to 20 percent – prompting authorities Thursday to warn evacuations could be ordered for residents who live on and below mountainsides denuded by wildfire.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works also announced Thursday it intends to close public access to all county roads in the 250-square-mile Station Fire burn area at 10 p.m. tonight.
Decisions on possible evacuations and road closures will be reviewed today.
A Weather Service forecast Thursday described the approaching Pacific storm as "cold and vigorous." Kaplan said this morning that the designation of "cold" still applies, but "it's not going to be vigorous. Most of its energy will appear in San Diego. They'll get the bulk of the rain."
Kaplan said that as of this morning, it appears the storm will remain farther west – meaning out to sea – and travel further south than earlier had been projected.
In the mountains, there will be a "slight chance of rain and snow after midnight," when the snow level will be between 5,000 and 5,500 feet, according to an NWS statement. It will fall to between 4,000 and 4,500 feet during the day Saturday.
There is also a chance of rain and snow showers in mountain areas Saturday evening and again after midnight. The snow level Saturday night and Sunday morning will be between 3,500 and 4,000 feet, according to the NWS.
The bulk of the storm is expected to move east of Los Angeles in time for the Oscars events that begin Sunday afternoon in Hollywood, raising prospects that the red carpet will stay dry, along with those who walk on it.
"It will be still be cloudy, but hopefully the showers will be exiting by that time," Kaplan said.
The lighter rain now expected may be good news for foothill residents and for debris basin clean-out crews. As of this morning, only one of 30 key debris basins and structures that protect neighborhoods below the burned watersheds was listed by the Public Works department as 100 percent cleared.
Before storms passed through the Southland last weekend, at least a dozen of the erosion protection structures in mountainside communities were listed as 100 percent cleared. But the rains left many of the basins once again filled or partly filled with mud, rock and tree limbs.
As of early today, the Pinelawn Debris Basin high in La Crescenta was the only one listed as 100 percent cleared in the county's Debris Basin Cleanout Master Schedule.
The NWS forecasts highs today of 54 on Mount Wilson; 61 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 62 in Newport Beach, Avalon and at LAX; 63 in Newhall; 64 in Long Beach and San Gabriel; 65 in Pasadena, Burbank and Woodland Hills; and 66 in Anaheim and downtown L.A.
An extended forecast indicates that temperatures will drop by 3-4 degrees Saturday before rising again.