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Sun is coming out in Southern California, but mudslides, floods remain a threat when more rain comes

By in Press Enterprise on January 11, 2018

By Chris Haire

The rains finally came, quick but irate.

After a parched three months, the first storm of the rainy season tore through Southern California this week, flooding streets, causing deadly mudslides in fire-charred areas and slickening roadways.

But, forecasters say, it probably wasn’t a harbinger of things to come. More likely, it was a brief tempest in the land of perpetual summer.

The next week and a half, which forecasters can predict with relative certainty, should be dry, sunny and warm.

Beyond that, the environmental arithmetic remains the same: Overgrown wilderness areas are still prone to out-of-control blazes, there’s no pressing concern of slipping back into drought, and those in recently fire-devastated areas face the specter of floods and mudslides anytime it rains – potentially for years to come.

“This storm does not portend anything that might happen in the future,” said Matt Moede, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Forecasts unreliable

Southern California will have a strangely uniform weather pattern through the weekend: Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties will each see midweek temperatures in the mid-70s that will gradually rise until hitting the 80s on Saturday, Moede said.

The reason, he added, is that the marine layer – which normally keeps the coasts cooler than inland areas – will be minimal.

Rain could return to the Southland at the end of January, Moede said. Maybe.

Long-term weather predictions are notoriously a crapshoot. Two years ago, the strongest El Nino recorded was supposed to pummel Southern California. Instead, nearly nothing. Last year, during a traditionally dry La Nina period, the state was drenched. Forecasters predicted rain several times this season, with nothing to show for it.

“We are still predicting below-average precipitation for the winter,” Moede said. “But long-term forecasts are extremely hard. It’s such a new science.”

But even if Southern California, or the entire state, doesn’t get […]    

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