Environment & Science

2 rainstorms head into Southern California this New Year's weekend

File: Women use umbrellas under a steady rainfall on Sept. 15, 2015 in Los Angeles.
File: Women use umbrellas under a steady rainfall on Sept. 15, 2015 in Los Angeles.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Two rainstorms are set to roll into Southern California as we head into 2017. The first will come early Friday, bringing scattered showers with a slight chance of a thunderstorm during the day and into the evening, according to the National Weather Service.

A second, colder storm comes Saturday, bringing rain in the afternoon and into the New Year's Eve evening, National Weather Service meteorologist David Sweet told KPCC — including a 40 percent chance of showers lasting overnight as Southern Californians are out celebrating the new year.

That second colder storm system also means temperatures will drop Saturday night into Sunday, delivering a cold New Year's Eve with temperatures in the low- to mid-40s and a cool New Year's Day with a high of around 60, according to Sweet. Sunday's forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and Monday is expected to be cloudy, but with very little chance of rain.

Sweet was quick to note that, while no one can predict mudslides, the current weather system doesn't seem to be bringing enough rainfall to cause concern. Nonetheless, folks should prepare.

Lt. Chris Grant of the Azusa Police Department said sandbags are available at local fire stations for residents of that area. Recent mudslides were strong enough to push K-rails onto the road, blocking traffic. 

Still, Grant is hopeful that preparation will pay off. 

“The biggest thing is maintaining visibility and keeping an eye on things and taking action before it gets out of hand," he said. 

Though the amount of rainfall doesn't seem significant enough to cause severe damage, there is a threat of snow near the Grapevine portion of I-5 during the second storm.

California Highway Patrol Officer Frank Romero frequently patrols that stretch of highway. Until this storm season, he said, that portion hadn't been shut down due to snow in years. Recently, it was closed to drivers for four hours until conditions improved. 

"This last half of the year, and maybe going into 2017, it’s looking like it could be promising for rain totals to start rising,” he said.   

If you can avoid driving on the Grapevine, Romero said, you probably should, adding that the 101 is a good alternate route. 

“It might be a little longer," he said, "but would you rather be driving or sitting in traffic for hours in possibly freezing temperatures?”  

Motorists who do travel through the Grapevine should be cautious of unexpected ice patches, puddles or debris along the road. 

Each storm is expected to bring between a quarter to a half inch of rain, adding to December's high totals. Over four inches of rain has fallen in downtown Los Angeles this year so far, the most since 2010. It's unlikely this year's rainfall will break that record; December 2010 saw a total of 10 inches of rain.

The ocean-cooling La Niña hasn't brought the expected drier than normal weather — downtown L.A. has still managed to rack up 5.48 inches of rain since the beginning of October, according to the Associated Press, which is nearly 2 inches above normal and more than five times what the area received last year.

The storms also come as crews prepare nightly to shut down portions of I-5 over the holiday weekend, along with other roads in the area. The mixture of those closures and the inclement weather mean you may need to allow for extra travel time and exercise some extra caution.

This story has been updated.