Mild storm dampens morning commute, holiday travel

Light rain doused the Southland today, and National Weather Service forecasters warned high surf will pound the coast as powerful winds sweep the San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley.
With the chance of rain set at 60 percent during daytime hours but falling to 20 percent tonight, forecasters said there is a chance of rain this afternoon in addition to this morning's precipitation. No rain is in Wednesday's forecast, but there is a 40 percent chance of rain in the greater L.A. area after midnight Thursday, falling to 20 percent Friday morning.
Christmas Day will be mostly cloudy. There is a 20 percent chance of rain that morning, giving way to a sunny afternoon, with temperature highs in the 60s.
The rain forecast in the Southland this week is the product of a series of storms forecast to cross California as a result of "a moist northern flow pattern across the region," with the highest chance of precipitation today
expected in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and in an area stretching from Santa Barbara northward, according to the NWS.
NWS forecasters said today's rainfall may add to between a tenth and a third of an inch in L.A. County, and even lighter precipitation is expected on Thursday, when the storm system "will not be very impressive," said NWS
meteorologist Dave Bruno in a telephone interview from his monitoring station in Oxnard. Underscoring his assessment, what had been a rain forecast for Thursday has been changed to mostly cloudy.
Bruno said some of the region's greatest rainfall this morning included .35 of an inch in Redondo Beach, .28 in Canoga Park, .27 in Woodland Hills, .24 in Torrance, .18 in Torrance, and .09 in Pasadena. Such rainfall volumes raise no risk of mud and debris flows, even over areas denuded by wildfire, he said.
Coinciding with the rain, moderate to strong winds will sweep the Antelope Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains today into Wednesday, forecasters said. A wind advisory will be in effect until noon Wednesday in the San
Gabriels and the Antelope Valley, with winds of between 20 and 30 miles per hour expected, along with 50-mph gusts.
Near the Grapevine, 60-mph gusts are possible, forecasters said, warning such gusts could make driving difficult, especially in high-profile vehicles.
A wind advisory will be in effect until 9 tonight on Santa Catalina Island and in the so-called L.A. coastal zone, which includes beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, the downtown area and the Hollywood Hills. Winds of
between25 and 25 mph are expected in those areas, along with 35-mph gusts.
In Orange County, a wind advisory will be in effect from 10 a.m. today until 10 tonight, and a coastal flood advisory will be in force until 10 Friday morning.
Along the L.A. County coast, a coastal flood advisory will be in effect until 10 a.m. Friday.
Off the L.A County coast, a small craft advisory -- a signal to inexperienced mariners in small boats to stay out of the water -- will be in force until 9 a.m. today, followed by a gale warning that will last until 9 p.m. Wednesday, reflecting an expectation of winds of 20 to 30 knots with gust of 40 knots, according to the NWS.
A storm system colder than today's -- though possibly packing less moisture -- is expected across California Thursday. "...The highest precipitation totals are expected to be north of Point Conception, but all areas have a chance of light to moderate rainfall. However, the main impact from this storm will be much colder air and increasing northerly winds Thursday night into Friday," an NWS statement said.
The snow level could dip to near 3,000 feet Thursday, and icy road conditions will greet holiday travelers on mountain roads, especially the Interstate 5 Corridor, it said, adding Thursday's storm will bring high surf to
the Central Coast.
Along with rain, the NWS forecast highs today of 54 degrees on Mount Wilson; 56 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 62 in Avalon and Mission Viejo; 63 in Laguna Beach, San Clemente and Yorba Linda; 64 in Saugus, Newport Beach and Irvine; 65 at LAX and in San Gabriel, Burbank, Fullerton and Anaheim; 66 in Long Beach, Pasadena and downtown L.A.; and 67 in Woodland Hills. Temperatures will remain in the 60s for the next several days.
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