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Major storm to drench Southern California on Easter weekend

By Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather.com
Enough rain will fall to increase the risk of flash flooding, mudslides and other debris flows in Southern California over the Easter weekend, forecasters warn. File Photo by Caroline Brehman/EPA-EFE
Enough rain will fall to increase the risk of flash flooding, mudslides and other debris flows in Southern California over the Easter weekend, forecasters warn. File Photo by Caroline Brehman/EPA-EFE

A potent storm will grab Pacific Ocean moisture and fling it at Southern California as multiple rounds of heavy rain and gusty thunderstorms into Easter Sunday, forecasters say.

AccuWeather meteorologists warn that enough rain will fall to increase the risk of flash flooding, mudslides and other debris flows.

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From 1-2 inches of rain will douse the Los Angeles and San Diego areas through Sunday. Much of that rain may fall in bursts that last up to a few hours each and rapidly run off and collect on streets and low-lying areas along the highways.

"The heaviest rain for the Los Angeles area is likely to occur on Saturday from 3 to 11 a.m. local time, while in San Diego, the heaviest rain is most likely from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Heather Zehr said.

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Major League Baseball games in Los Angeles and San Diego may be affected by the storm this weekend with rain delays and postponements possible.

Forecasters urge motorists to allow extra time and be prepared to seek an alternative route if they must travel.

Along the southern and western facing slopes of the Coast Ranges, 2-4 inches of rain will fall with an AccuWeather Local StormMax rainfall of 8 inches. Much of this rain will fall in a few periods through the weekend, leading to excessive runoff, mudslides, rockslides and the risk of road washouts. Some secondary roads damaged by prior rainstorms this past winter may be more vulnerable.

Thunderstorms will also pack a punch in parts of California, with the risk of some of the strongest storms bringing hail and strong wind gusts. The setup with the storm system could produce a couple of waterspouts along the coast. Downpours will also spill to the east of the Coast Ranges and onto the deserts in Southern California.

Gusty winds along the coast will generate large waves, pounding surf and the likelihood of overwash along the beaches. However, waves will not be as large as that of some storms from the past winter, so coastal flooding may not be as severe.

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In the Southern California mountains, just rain is expected to fall on the major passes, including along Interstates 5 and 15. However, the ridges and peaks are likely to pick up a foot or two of snow from the storm.

Farther north, the bulk of the snow and the greatest risk of difficult travel and road closures along I-80 through Donner Pass, Calif., will continue on Saturday. From Saturday night to Monday, the snow will tend to be more light and intermittent. The anticipated storm total snowfall for Truckee, California, is 12-18 inches.

In the zone from San Francisco to Sacramento, Calif., the bulk of the rain will fall into Saturday morning. After that, the rain will become more showery. There can still be locally gusty thundershowers with hail in some cases into Easter Sunday.

From July 1 to March 29, Los Angeles International Airport has received 19.69 inches of rain, compared to a historical average of 11.25 inches. Downtown Los Angeles has picked up 22.45 inches of rain since the start of July. Rainfall in the San Diego area has been well above the historical average as well, with 12.44 inches compared to 8.84 inches at the airport. Rainfall has been close to the historical average in San Francisco, with 18.41 inches of rain since July 1.

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The rain and Sierra Nevada snow has bolstered reservoir levels and the snowpack.

Because of the state of reservoirs and the amount of water locked up in the Sierra snow, AccuWeather experts do not anticipate water shortage problems in California into the spring of 2026, even if lean precipitation occurs during the upcoming winters of 2024-2025 and 2025-2026. There can still be episodes of soil drought and wildfire concerns due to dry vegetation.

AccuWeather meteorologists are tracking additional storms over the Pacific, which are likely to dip southward along the West Coast. At this time, the bulk of the rain from the storms may stay to the north of Los Angeles and San Diego while rounds of drenching rain (and thunderstorms) may affect San Francisco and Sacramento, as well as more snow for much of the Sierra Nevada, during the first week and weekend of April.

Energy from the storm in Southern California this weekend will swing toward the central United States early next week and could initiate a significant amount of severe weather and tornadoes.

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