As Southern California’s weather-weary mountain communities continued to recover from severe storms that have snowed in many residents, San Bernardino County authorities urged calm ahead of another “atmospheric river” lurking to the north, saying Wednesday that the latest, weaker system could bring about an inch of rainfall to the area but otherwise would spare the region of another public safety crisis.
According to the National Weather Service, a warmer system that’s expected to slam into Northern California early Thursday will move through Southern California beginning late in the evening.
The storm is not expected to pack nearly the punch of the cold storms that swept through Southern California several days ago: It likely will bring some rain to most areas, with snow possible mainly above 7,000 feet in elevation. The state’s central and northern coast will get drenched, but Southern California could see around an inch of rain at most.
“The most significant impacts we’re expecting from this will be non-life threatening flooding,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Philip Gonsalves.”Depending on where the water runs off, the combination of rainfall and some melting of existing snow is expected to produce non-life-threatening flooding, but some of the flooding, depending on where the water gets routed, could end up getting into people’s homes.”
Although it is not predicted that there will not be any significant damage in mountain communities, locals who are still digging their neighbors out of the snow and facing trauma from the past couple of weeks are on edge.
“I can see the concerns,” said Lake Arrowhead resident Natalia Hinkleman, who has been helping with a massive volunteer donation effort. “We definitely have spots that will flood easily, but we’ve never had this amount of snow on the ground.”
Lake Arrowhead resident Lisa Griggs, another volunteer, lives in a flood zone within the mountain community. Days of digging through hard snow and speaking to neighbors whose lives were upended by the blizzard has made her weary.
“Mother Nature is a very interesting beast,” Griggs said. “For me, I like to get out ahead of things.”
Some residents are also concerned about added moisture buckling the roofs of houses piled high with days-old snow.
“I’m personally not concerned that the weather will be worse than forecasted,” said Lake Arrowhead resident Dawn Diggle. “I am, however, concerned that even an inch’s worth of water on an already stressed and cracking structure will be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Several structures in the mountains have been red-tagged, according to San Bernardino County representative David Wert, though the number of red tagged buildings has not been made public yet.
“We’re following the modeling very closely to see what the potential impact will see in the mountain communities,” said San Bernardino County Fire Department representative Eric Sherwin, who understood the anxiety. Residents have “been through enough as it is, and I think everyone is on edge and concerned.”
“I think people have a lot of fear right now because with the last storm, nobody knew it would storm that much,” said Lake Arrowhead resident Susie Newman-Harrison. “We don’t know what’s coming. We’re a little nervous….we pray to God that it’s not as bad.”
Above all, local agencies are urging residents to prepare for this storm like they would for any other: stock up on food, check on your neighbors, and to anticipate possible water damage. The San Bernardino County Fire Department is offering sandbags at several fire stations for residents who want them around their homes.
The storm will make for a wet weekend, even if the actual rain accumulated won’t amount to much.
Rain will be heaviest Thursday night through Saturday, with about 0/75-1.5 inches possible in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. After the storm clears, temperatures will be in the 50s and 60s for much of the region, potentially reaching the low 70s in the San Fernando Valley on Monday, March 13.