'Going to be a stormy evening.' Rain arrives as California awaits new year

'Going to be a stormy evening.' Rain arrives as California awaits new year

The year is coming to a soggy and stormy conclusion, with record-breaking rainfall swamping roadways in the San Francisco Bay Area and the expectation of more moisture prompting officials to issue rain-related warnings near some Southern California fire burn areas.

In downtown Los Angeles, the bulk of the rain is expected to last from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with wind gusts of 25 to 30 mph, according to David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“There could be some minor issues with ponding of water on the roads, a bit of local flooding at times. It’s going to be a reasonably difficult driving experience in the L.A. area tonight,” Sweet said. “It’s going to be a stormy evening, that’s for sure.”

Up to an inch of rain is expected in downtown Los Angeles, while the mountains could experience up to 3 inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 60 mph.

The forecast prompted officials to issue an evacuation warning starting at 11: 30 a.m. for portions of northern L.A. County, including Lake Hughes and the 2020 Bobcat fire burn area in the Antelope Valley. Rain-related parking restrictions were also imposed on about 25 homes in Duarte, in the area affected by the Fish fire earlier this year.

In anticipation of rain and possible flooding, the California Department of Transportation said one lane would be closed starting noon Saturday in both directions on Interstate 15 from Oak Hill Road to Bear Valley Road in San Bernardino County, where construction is currently taking place.

In Orange County, officials issued an evacuation warning for Silverado Canyon and Williams Canyon residents in the area affected by the 2020 Bond fire because of the possibility of debris flows.

Neighborhoods across the Bay Area have experienced between 1 and 3 inches of rain over the last day, according to Brooke Bingaman, an NWS meteorologist in Monterey.

Soil in the region was already saturated before Saturday, leading to flooded roadways and downed trees.

“The problem is that when these soils are already near or at saturation, then all this additional rain that comes down, it’s not going to get soaked up,” Bingaman said. “So it just runs into the creeks and streams or ponds in urban areas.”

Weather in the Bay Area is expected to clear Saturday night and stay dry New Year’s Day. But that does not mean the region is in the clear from weather risks — it can take up to a week for rain from a storm to trigger mudslides.

“We could continue to see impacts,” Bingaman said. “It could be a messy start to 2023.”

In downtown San Francisco, 2.96 inches of rain had fallen by 11: 20 a.m. — breaking the previous daily record of 2.12 inches, which was set in 2005, according to the National Weather Service.

Major flooding forced CalTrans to shut down all lanes indefinitely on U.S. 101 in South San Francisco.

In Los Angeles County, the wind and rain are expected to subside by Sunday, keeping New Year’s Day sunny and dry with temperatures reaching the 60s. Nice weather should hold for the Rose Parade in Pasadena, which returns Monday without COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in three years.

But the reprieve will likely be short lived, according to Sweet. Another storm is expected Monday night with a continued chance of rain into Tuesday, before a potentially powerful storm hits the region Wednesday night.

“I can’t really get too specific on how much rain is going to fall, but it looks like it’s going to be stronger than the storm this evening,” Sweet said. “If the current projections do come through … Wednesday night’s system looks very impressive.”