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Rain expected throughout Southland on Monday; NorCal will be hit hard

A man walks in the rain past a covered storefront in San Anselmo, Calif., on Jan. 7, 2017. On the California coast, weather forecasters anticipated a storm surge from the Pacific called an atmospheric river to dump several inches of rain from Sonoma to Monterey counties, and up to a foot in isolated places in the Santa Cruz mountains. Jeff Chiu/AP

Southland commuters on Monday should expect to deal with rain that could be heavy at times throughout the morning and afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast said. But the wet weather will be nothing like what Northern California residents are facing.

For the Los Angeles region, there is an 80 percent chance that rain will start after midnight and continue the rest of the day. Temperatures are expect to range from lows in the mid-50s to highs in the mid-60s, with 5 mph winds from the east-northeast in the morning, shifting to the south-southwest in the afternoon, the weather service said.

Forecasters have no doubt that there will be rain, probably showers, Monday afternoon, when they're saying there's a 100 percent chance of precipitation. 

The storm is expected to move out of the region by Monday night, leaving behind partly cloudy skies, calm winds and temperatures ranging from the upper 40s to mid 50s.

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In Northern California, stranded motorists were pulled from cars stuck on flooded roads on Sunday as thunderstorms arrived as part of a massive winter storm that could be the biggest to slam the region in more than a decade.

Crews in cleared trees and debris following mudslides caused by steady rain accompanying the system that could dump 15 inches in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and heavy snow on the mountain tops before it's expected to move east on Monday.

The storm surge stretching all the way from Hawaii — called an atmospheric river — comes as California enters its sixth year of drought. Each drop of rain is welcomed, but officials said several more big storms are needed to replenish depleted groundwater supplies.

Relatively mild temperatures were driving up the snowline to above 9,000 feet throughout the Sierra Nevada, causing runoff in the lower elevations. Forecasters said Sunday it was tracking pretty much as they expected.

"For forecasters who've been here a decade or more, this is one of the most impressive atmospheric setups that we have seen in a long time for potential flooding in the region," said Chris Smallcomb, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Reno, Nevada. "If you had to write a textbook on how to get a flood in the region, you would use a scenario just like this."

In California, authorities reported rescues in Marin and Sonoma counties, including an operation along U.S. 101 where several people were plucked from submerged vehicles. No injuries were reported.

Authorities were watching rising water levels of several Northern California rivers, including the Cosumnes, Truckee, American and Russian. Officials urged residents to avoid driving through standing water and to stay off rural roads, where rescues could be difficult. All roads leading to Yosemite National Park's valley floor remained closed amid fears that the Merced River could overflow its banks and cause major flooding.

"It's kind of surreal how empty the park is. There's nobody here," said Gary Kazanjian, a freelance photographer who spent the night in Yosemite and drove out Sunday as part of a caravan of stragglers.