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In Brief

California Drenching: 'Off-the-Charts' Rainfall Headed for State

A NOAA geostationary (GOES) satellite captured the winter storm's water vapor over California. (Image credit: NOAA)

Southern California is bracing for what could be the strongest storm to hit this part of the state in six years, and one city has already ordered an evacuation ahead of the heavy rain and snow that could fall over the drought-stricken region, according to news reports.

The city of Duarte, located near the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles, ordered 180 homes to evacuate today ahead of the storm, and voluntary evacuation orders were issued for Camarillo Springs, reported the Weather Channel. School classes and community events have also been canceled throughout the region.

"The storm looks to be the strongest storm to hit southwest California this season," officials from the National Weather Service office for the Los Angeles region said, according to the Weather Channel. "It is likely the strongest within the last six years and possibly even as far back as December 2004 or January 1995." [Fishy Rain to Fire Whirlwinds: The World's Weirdest Weather]

The National Weather Service has issued several watches and warnings for the storm's potential impact. In fact, if predictions for the two-day rainfall in some areas are correct, this storm could rank within the top 10 for all-time heaviest two-day rain events, reported Mashable.

California has been experiencing a "water year," Mashable reported, with record levels of rainfall since October that's expected to last through the wet and dry seasons. With this incoming storm, the intense rainfall also raises concerns about landslides and mudslides, especially in the already waterlogged hillsides, according to Mashable. Flash flooding is also a concern in urban areas.

A storm this strong, at such a low latitude, is rare for California, the Weather Service's San Diego forecast office said. During a forecast discussion, the agency said the winter storm is "off the charts when looking at the past 30-year record," Mashable reported.

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Jon Erdman, a meteorologist with the Weather Channel, told the weather news network that the storm will not only bring heavy rainfall, but also damaging wind gusts and snowfall in areas of higher elevation. Some locations are expected to see up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) of snow, the Weather Channel said.

"If that wasn't enough, we also can't rule out thunderstorms," Erdman told the Weather Channel, "possibly spawning waterspouts Friday night into early Saturday."

Original article on Live Science.

Kacey Deamer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.