Southern California braces for rainfall and strong winds on election day

SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 11: Pedestrians Monday morning enjoy the beautiful weather along the Santa Monica beach which remains open at all times. But out of an abundance of caution and to contribute to regional efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, the Santa Monica Pier will be temporarily closed the remaining weekends in January. The Pier remains open to pedestrians Monday Through Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home as much as possible and the closure is part of meeting this need. Santa Monica Pier on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 in Santa Monica, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Southern California is expected to get hit with heavy rainfall this week as a new storm system moves into the region. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Storms are expected to start hitting Southern California early this week, soaking the region and buffeting it with powerful winds through election day.

"We're expecting our first really significant rainfall of the season," said meteorologist Kristen Stewart with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Stewart said that across the region stretching from San Luis Obispo County to Los Angeles County, the storms are expected to bring at least an inch or two of rainfall, with 3 inches or more possible in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Rain is likely to begin Sunday night across the Central Coast before gradually moving into Los Angeles County on Monday, she said.

The heaviest rains are expected Tuesday, she said. The storm system is also predicted to bring strong winds to the area, with gusts ranging from 30 to 50 miles per hour in much of the region, and upwards of 60 miles per hour in the Antelope Valley, Stewart said.

"This storm system looks like it will be fairly long in duration," said Casey Oswant, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego, which also tracks trends across Orange County and the Inland Empire. "The most significant rainfall that we're expecting will really be on Tuesday. ... During that time, people should expect periods of moderate to heavy rain, particularly if they're closer to the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains."

Winds are expected to be strongest in the mountain areas and the areas of Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley, Oswant said, with gusts ranging upwards of 50 miles per hour. And high elevations — between 7,000 and 8,000 feet — could get up to 2 feet of snow, she said.

As California candidates and political activists have eyed the forecasts for a stormy election day, many have been urging people to vote early, either at voting centers or by mailing in their ballots. The rain is expected to start dissipating on Wednesday.

Oswant said that "with this storm, we're really looking out for the potential of flooding," as well as debris flows near areas with burn scars.

Stewart also cautioned Southern Californians to drive cautiously. "It's a lot harder to stop when the roads are wet," she said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.