Wind, rain hit parts of California |

Wind, rain hit parts of California

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES- The rain forecast for Southern California failed to materialize for the most part Sunday, but strong winds caused dust storms and forced the closure of a major freeway.

The National Weather Service still expected a duo of storms to deliver 3 to 6 inches of rain late Sunday and Monday in the mountains and foothills, and 1 to 3 inches were expected in coastal areas.

The storm may have been stingy with the rain, but not the wind. Gusts blowing up to 50 mph produced dust clouds in the Bakersfield area forcing the California Highway Patrol to shut down many roads because of poor visibility.

The CHP also had to close Interstate 5 at the Grapevine on Sunday because high winds reaching up to 70 mph caused vehicles to sway back and forth on the major freeway linking Southern California with the central and northern part of the state. Traffic had to be diverted in both directions.

Heavy rain was expected to start falling late Sunday night as the storm finally starts moving into Southern California, said weather specialist Stuart Seto with the National Weather Service.

”It’s still there, it’s just that the timing is shifting. This one just really slowed down,” Seto said.

Santa Barbara County was the only place in the region that received morning rain Sunday, with totals ranging from a quarter of an inch to three quarters of an inch of precipitation, Seto said. The heaviest showers are forecast for the mountains of southern Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The Los Angeles area is under a flood watch through Monday, even though it won’t get the worst of the storm. ”The ground is full of water already, so this rain will all be runoff,” Seto said.

The National Weather Service placed mountain areas under a winter storm watch, with 1 to 3 feet of snow expected. The snow level will be around 7,000 feet and high winds will produce blizzard conditions, forecasters said.

Rain is forecast in Southern California throughout the week, with the exception of Thursday when the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies.

Rainfall totals before Sunday’s anticipated storm were well above normal at 15.66 inches, 4.5 inches above average for this point in the season.

”It’s a little strange when we’re getting more rain (in Southern California) than we do up in Seattle,” meteorologist Dan Atkin said.

AP-WS-03-04-01 2033EST

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