By Noaki Schwartz/The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — A series of winter storms bearing down on California could be the largest system the region has seen in the last decade, the National Weather Service said Saturday.
Southern California will be hit especially hard by the storms, and officials are preparing for flooding and posting mudflow warnings for burn areas in the San Gabriel Mountains and in Malibu.
"This is one big mother and it's going to have a lot of waves in it," said Bill Hoffer, a spokesman for the agency's forecast office in Oxnard.
The National Weather Service said a low pressure system off Oregon has created a band moisture that starts in Hawaii and points directly at Central California.
Meteorologist Jim Dudley said Friday that Central Valley will get 1 to 3 inches of rain by Monday with up to 15 inches of rain in the Sierra, which could prompt flooding in streams and rivers.
Northern California is expecting 5 inches of rain in places over the weekend, and officials in San Francisco are distributing sandbags to residents as they brace for possible flooding.
Southern California could see 2 to 4 inches along the coasts and valleys with triple that in the mountains.
There already have been reports of flooding across all lanes of the southbound Interstate 5 south of the Antelope Valley Freeway interchange in Southern California, according to California Highway Patrol. Residents who live in flood-prone roads in La Canada-Flintridge have been warned to move their cars off the road.