Storm moves into Valley, with chance of hail, gusts

Rain from a powerful storm that hit the Valley late Friday is expected to taper off by late afternoon or early evening today.

The storm lashing the state should drop about three-quarters of an inch of rain in the Fresno area, nearly an inch in Merced County and a half-inch in the South Valley, said Jeff Barlow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

It was expected to be worse in Southern California.

A slight chance of thundershowers today could bring small hail and gusty winds around midday and into the afternoon, Barlow said.

Valley highs today will be 55 to 60, and the lows will be 45 to 50.

The snow level in the Sierra and over the Grapevine should remain at or above 5,000 feet. One to 3 feet of snow could fall in lower levels, and up to 4 feet could accumulate above 7,000 feet.

A winter storm warning is in effect in the Sierra until 10 p.m. today, Barlow said.

As the storm system moves out, fog may roll into the Valley on Sunday and Monday nights, said Cindy Bean, another weather service meteorologist. Sunday should be dry with a few remaining clouds.

The storm dropped half an inch of rain in Fresno by 10 p.m. Friday, bringing the seasonal total to 8.58 inches — 1 inch above normal for this time of year, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Bingham said. Merced County had .42 of an inch of rainfall Friday night.

The storm was expected to batter the rest of the state. In Los Angeles County, more than 200 homes were ordered evacuated Friday as the storm brought another threat of mudslides to fire-scarred foothill areas.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies went door to door warning residents in 224 homes to leave by 7 p.m. in high-risk neighborhoods in La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta, spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.The areas northeast of Los Angeles have been evacuated at least a half-dozen times this winter because of storm concerns.

A mudslide earlier this month damaged 43 homes in La Cañada Flintridge.

As much as 1 1/2 inches of rain were expected in coastal and valley areas, with up to 21/2 inches in the foothills.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for areas of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties that were in or near areas burned by wildfires. Forecasters said possible thunderstorms could dump an inch of rain or more per hour. Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road were to be closed, even to residents, beginning Friday afternoon in areas of the San Gabriel Mountains burned by last year’s 250-square-mile Station fire.

During a storm this month, mud, boulders and tree limbs clogged a debris basin designed to protect La Cañada Flintridge and the overflow swept through town. Since then, homes in the area have repeatedly been put on alert.

A dozen of the 30 debris basins in the foothill area had been cleared by Friday, and another was expected to be ready by the time the storm arrived.