Tonight's “pineapple express” storm that's drawing moisture from the tropical Pacific could be the strongest rain event L.A. has seen in at least three years, experts say.
The folks at private weather forecasting service AccuWeather are going a little further, saying that, in some parts of California, “this has the potential to be biggest single rain-producer about 10 years.”
We're talking a barrage of wet in the wee hours, according to the National Weather Service.
Some areas of greater L.A. could see up to an inch of rain an hour, which is “enough to cause flash flooding,” says NWS meteorologist Scott Sukup.
The first real rainfall will start hitting after midnight, he said.
The heaviest rain, with rates of a half-inch through an inch per hour, will likely strike between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., he said. “Most of the rain will fall in that two- or three-hour window,” Sukup told us.
Overall the numbers are expected to be similar to what was predicted for last week's rain event: one to two inches along the coast, in the Valley and in the urban basin, and two to four inches for the mountains and foothills.
However, that early morning concentration differentiates this storm and makes it a whopper.
“It will likely be one of the stronger storms we've had in the last three years or so,” Sukup said. “It's going to happen in short amount of time, and there will be strong winds.”
“There is plenty of moisture for this storm to tap,” AccuWeather.com Western Weather Expert Ken Clark said in a statement. “And this is why it will be such a soaking rain.”
But wait, there's more:
In the L.A basin we're looking at 30 to 45-mile-per-hour winds, Sukup said. In the mountains, the weather service is predicting monster gusts of 60 to 80 miles per hour.
And because we're looking at a cold front that's drawing in some warm moisture from as far away as Hawaii, the mix of cold and warm could produce thunderstorms, too, Sukup said.
Mountain mudslides, Valley flooding and downed branches and wires across the region seem possible if not likely, experts say.
The system is warm enough that the snow level for local mountains will be very high, 7,000 to 8,000 feet, Sukup said. That could drop to 5,000 Saturday morning, but by then the precipitation will likely be gone, he said.
If you have to drive in the rain overnight, the California Highway Patrol had this advice for you: “SLOW DOWN.” (Yes, the CHP stated that in all-caps). Makes sense.
The rain should move out Saturday, but another system could bring rain to L.A. from Monday through Wednesday.
Stay high and dry if you can.