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Southern California braces for heavy rain as 2023 continues its showery start

After a New Year’s Eve storm, Southern California will continue its rainy start to 2023 with a storm beginning Thursday, Jan. 5, the National Weather Service said.

After drizzling and light showers were seen Wednesday, NWS meteorologist Brian Adams said Orange County and the Inland Empire will see the heaviest rains starting from about 6 a.m. Thursday and continuing until around 4 p.m. that afternoon. A total of 1-2 inches of rain will be falling uniformly across the populated parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, Adams said. Los Angeles County will see heavy rainfall in a similar window starting at 4 a.m., according to NWS meteorologist Carol Smith.

Taking cover from a downpour at Lake Avenue and Green streets in Pasadena, CA Wednesday, January 4, 2022. An atmospheric river is expected to drop up to 7 inches of rain in some areas of Southern California over the next several days. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

As showers begin, a pedestrian walks up Lake Avenue in Pasadena, CA Wednesday, January 4, 2022. An atmospheric river is expected to drop up to 7 inches of rain in some areas of Southern California over the next several days. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A couple shares an umbrella along Lake Avenue in Pasadena, CA Wednesday, January 4, 2022. An atmospheric river is expected to drop up to 7 inches of rain in some areas of Southern California over the next several days. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Umbrellas come out along Lake Avenue in Pasadena, CA Wednesday, January 4, 2022. An atmospheric river is expected to drop up to 7 inches of rain in some areas of Southern California over the next several days. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A person uses a bag to shelter from the rain in downtown Los Angeles as a strong storm moves into Southern California on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A person shelters from the rain in Van Nuys as a strong storm moves into Southern California on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

People shelter from the rain in downtown Los Angeles as a strong storm moves into Southern California on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A dog is walked as it rains in downtown Los Angeles as a strong storm moves into Southern California on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Plastic covers a home on wheels in Compton as a strong storm moves into Southern California on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Vehicles make their way through the rain filled intersection of Glenoaks Boulevard and Tuxford Street in Sun Valley on Wednesday, Jan 4, 2023. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

People use umbrellas to stay dry as they cross Van Nuys Blvd in Van Nuys, Wed, Jan 4, 2023. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Vehicles make their way through the rain filled intersection of Glenoaks Boulevard and Tuxford Street as a man crosses the street in Sun Valley, Wed, Jan 4, 2023. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A person covers themselves in a blanket while attempting to sty dry from the rain underneath a bus stop on Van Nuys Blvd in Arleta, Wed, Jan 4, 2023. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A little wet weather doesn’t stop residents in
Long Beach from working up a sweat, nor the birds from enjoying a new puddle, on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

A little wet weather doesn’t stop residents in
Long Beach from working up a sweat on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

A little wet weather doesn’t stop residents in
Long Beach from working up a sweat on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

A little wet weather doesn’t stop residents in
Long Beach from working up a sweat on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

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The storm comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency across California and as the Bay Area braced for a potentially deadly storm that touched down Wednesday. Also Wednesday, evacuations were ordered for those living in the burn scar areas of three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County, where heavy rain was expected overnight, and could cause widespread flooding and unleash debris flows in several areas.

Higher elevations in Orange County, such as communities in the mountain foothills like Portola Hills and Silverado, may have around 3 inches of total rain, Adams added.

Heavy rain is possible in Inland Empire mountain communities, with snow also expected in the San Bernardino County Mountains above 7,000 feet.

In the Los Angeles metro area, Smith said a total of 1-3 inches were expected. She forecasted that San Fernando Valley would see a total of about 2.5-4 inches of rain Thursday, with heavier showers in the valley’s foothill communities. Long Beach and the South Bay would likely see up to 2 inches of rain, Smith added.

Adams said the Dec. 31 storm has heavily saturated the ground, meaning Southern California’s terrain will likely be less equipped to absorb the incoming rainfall, Adams said.

“The area will be steadily accumulating a large amount of rainfall rather than it falling all at once,” Adams said.

Another NWS meteorologist, Dan Gregoria, said Orange County and the Inland Empire were both issued flood watches due to a risk of flash flooding during the “moderate impact” storm.

Geographically, all of Orange County was at “higher risk” for flash flooding, Gregoria explained. In the Inland Empire, Chino and Ontario were also at risk, he said.

“We do have some concern for (flash flooding),” Gregoria said, noting that drivers should exercise caution during the storm. “We advise to not drive through flooded roadways … it can be really life-threatening and dangerous.”

Los Angeles county could also face flash-flooding, NWS meteorologist Joe Sirard said, adding that burn scar areas were of “most concern.” Free sandbags were available for pick-up in locations across Los Angeles County.

Minimal to no vegetation in the burn scars add to the potential for mud and debris flows, Sirard explained. These flows can even be deadly.

Los Angeles County issued an evacuation warning for the Lake Hughes and King Canyon area, north of Santa Clarita, for this reason.

Due to @LACoPublicWorks Phase 2 mudflow forecast for recent burn areas, an EVACUATION WARNING has been issued for the Lake Hughes and Kings Canyon area due to possible mud/debris flows from Wed 1/4 through Fri 1/6.

Residents are advised to be READY for possible evacuations.

— Ready Los Angeles County (@ReadyLACounty) January 4, 2023

In the Inland Empire, at-risk burn scars include the Fairview fire burn scar that was left behind from a September blaze and the Apple-El Dorado burn scar.

A sign on the 5 Freeway warns motorists of the upcoming storms in Orange County on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Cooper, a 2-year-old Labrador, goes for a dip under the Dana Point Waterfall on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. The falls appears only during rain and the runoff is funneled underground though a concrete pipe. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ole Anderson, 9, left, leads the way as Riley Manchester, 8, and her 9-year-old brother Tanner hike under the Dana Point Waterfall on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. The water appears only during rain and the runoff is funneled underground. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Regan Manchester, 11, plays with her dog Cooper as he runs through water at Dana Point Harbor on
Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Storm clouds hover overhead in Irvine as Orange County braces for another series of storms on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Seven-year-old twins Cleo Smith, left, and Naya, have two times the fun as they play in Dana Point Harbor on
Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Tanner Manchester, 9, and his sisters Riley, 8, and Regan, 11, have fun throwing rocks into a pool of water near the man-made Dana Point Waterfall on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. The falls appears only during rain and the runoff is funneled underground. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Tanner Manchester, 9, from left, his best friend Ole Anderson, 9, and Tanner’s sisters, Riley, 8, and Regan, 11, have fun throwing rocks into a pool of water near the man-made Dana Point Waterfall on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. The falls appears only during rain and funnel runoff water underground. Danielle Manchester said, “It’s nice when kids can be kids…It’s a very tropical feel here.” (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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In addition to precipitation, Smith said heavy gusts were also expected across the county. Off the coast of Malibu, 45 mph gusts were forecasted for Thursday, while the San Fernando Valley was expected to see winds ranging from 20-30 mph. Across the metro area, gusts would be slightly higher at 25-35 mph, she said.

Gusts nearing 40 mph could be expected from San Clemente to Huntington Beach, and even reach up to Long Beach, Adams said.

High winds in the San Bernardino Mountains could bring down tree branches, potentially hampering the morning and afternoon commutes, the NWS warned.

Amid the deluge, high surf is also expected on the coast. This could mean additional flooding on Southern California’s shoreline, which already saw a landslide in Dana Point amid the rains.

A brief reprieve from the rain was likely over the weekend, according to Adams. While forecasts weren’t immediately clear, more rain could be expected starting early next week, he said.

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