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A wet, treacherous start to 2023 as flooding possible in Southern California

The new year will get off to a wet and possibly treacherous start as a series of winter storms, along with possible flooding, push into Southern California beginning on New Year’s Eve and continuing during the first week of 2023, according to forecasters.

The National Weather Service said Friday that an “atmospheric river will sag south” into Southern California due to a dip in the jet stream, producing rain, as well as snow at higher elevations on Saturday. High winds also are expected across the area.

The heaviest rain is likely to begin after dark on Saturday in much of the region, just as many New Year’s Eve revelers head out to celebrate.

On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a flood watch that will be in effect from Saturday evening to 2 a.m. Sunday for parts of the region. Among the areas were most of Riverside metropolitan area and the mountain communities along Highway 243, as well as parts farther north and south.

Heavy rain and possible debris flows also are possible in inland Orange County and along parts of the coast.

Rain and southwest winds of up to 50 miles per hour in some areas are expected to reach Los Angeles County on Saturday.

The trough of low pressure will move quickly through, largely leaving the inland region by midday Sunday. That will bring in a short dry spell followed by more rain next week, according to the NWS.

“The heaviest rain moves in Saturday night,” the agency said.

It also “will be a warm storm, with snow levels above 7,500 feet, so most of the precipitation will fall as rain,” according to the Weather Service. “Snow impacts will mostly be confined to areas above 8,500 feet, where several inches will accumulate. Snow levels fall to 7,000 feet late Saturday night with the passage of the cold front, but by then the heaviest precipitation will have moved east.”

People celebrating the New Year’s Eve, and especially those out on the roads, should be aware of the unsettled weather and proceed with caution.

Heavy rains bring concern over localized street flooding, as well as rapid runoff in areas recently affected by wildfires, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the LA National Weather Service.

The flash flood warning is expected to end at midnight, bringing sunny skies by Sunday morning on New Year’s Day. People attending the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena on Monday can expect a slight chance of rain after 4 pm, with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 50s.

A high surf advisory for southern coastal areas will be in effect beginning Monday, from 4 am until 6 pm the next day. In Huntington Beach, the relatively warm storm will keep temperatures in the high 50s with high winds up to 30 miles per hour after midnight Saturday.

Orange County and Inland Empire areas can anticipate rainfall of up to 1.5 inches in some parts and should be on the lookout for flash flood warnings by Saturday evening, according to San Diego National Weather meteorologist Brian Adams.

Heavier rainfall should decrease by 2 am Sunday, as light showers bring mostly sunny weather in the high 50s for cities in Riverside and Santa Ana.

Bands of precipitation are likely to return in the predawn hours Tuesday, as another trough rolls across the region. Heavier weather is possible Wednesday and Thursday.

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City News Service contributed to this report.

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