Heavy rain expected heading into holiday weekend

File: A pedestrian uses her umbrella in the rain in Alhambra on April 8, 2016.
File: A pedestrian uses her umbrella in the rain in Alhambra on April 8, 2016.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Overnight rain brought a number of problems on roads and freeways in Los Angeles, including a big rig crash that shut a portion of the Metro Gold Line.

Overall, nearly 200 crashes were reported on L.A. County freeways between 5 p.m. and midnight — nearly three times the amount on a dry day, NBC4 reported, citing the California Highway Patrol.

Los Angeles got up to an inch of drizzly rain between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to meteorologists and city officials.

That rain was expected to dry up by the end of the day, but the region could be in for an even bigger storm heading into the holiday weekend. A front from the Gulf of Alaska will bring up to 2 inches of rain to parts of L.A. County starting Friday night, according to meteorologists.

“This is more like what our winters should look like — what we’ve seen in the last week or two here with multiple storms,” said Scott Sukup with the National Weather Service.

Heavy rain is expected to be widespread starting late Friday and extending into the morning of Christmas Eve, with widespread totals of a half-inch to an inch and up to 2 inches in the mountains and foothills, Sukup told KPCC.

Snow could fall as low as 6,500 feet during the period of rainfall, and the accumulation could be significant across higher elevations, he said.

By Saturday morning, the snow level could drop to 4,000 feet, which could cause problems for travelers in the Grapevine, Sukup said.

The storm could also bring some strong winds, especially in the mountains, Sukup said.

If you’re traveling for the holiday, slow down and be safe.

Preparing for the storm

With heavy rain comes the risk of flooding and mudslides, particularly in recent burn areas.

The overnight rain wasn't enough to do any damage yet, but it may have loosened up the soil ahead of Friday's storm, which is expected to be stronger.

"Certainly when there's rainfall that continues over a pattern of days, we have issues with more moisture in the soils — and in wildfire areas, the soils aren't particularly stable. So we do continue watching those very closely," said Steve Frasher with the L.A. County Department of Public Works.

Those areas include Duarte, Azusa and Santa Clarita. Several roads and a school had to be closed in Duarte after rain set off a series of mudslides there last week.

So what about that drought?

The storm that came through in the last 24 hours brought a half-inch to an inch of rain for most of L.A. County.

We've gotten much more rain than we're used to seeing in the last month, but it's still having only a slight impact on the state's ongoing drought.

"So far we're ahead in our rain year, but we still have the heavy months of January and February to get to," Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service, told KPCC.


This story has been updated.