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California’s wet December drawing to a close with more rain

LOS ANGELES — California’s wet December is drawing to a close with even more rain and snow in a welcome respite amid years of drought.

A warm low-pressure storm system brought showers to Southern California starting early Friday and slowly moved east through the day as a cold weather system dropped down toward the state from the north.

Rainfall amounts were modest Friday, mostly a few tenths of an inch, but nonetheless adding to precipitation accumulations well above normal to date despite continuing drought.

Downtown Los Angeles has had around 5½ inches of rain since the start of the water year on Oct. 1, more than five times the amount that had fallen to date last year.

Nearly 17.5 percent of California — a chunk of the far north and the coastal strip south to Monterey Bay — is now free of drought indicators but a large swath of the state is still in the grip of the worst levels of dryness, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor update, which noted widespread precipitation in the western U.S. since Dec. 22.

“Some of the most impressive precipitation fell across southern California and the Desert Southwest, where recent improvements have to be viewed through the lens of a multi-year drought that features lingering low reservoir levels; tree mortality; groundwater shortages; and other long-term indicators,” Brad Rippey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote in the Dec. 27 national drought summary.

Friday’s second storm system was expected to arrive during the night after dropping southward from the Gulf of Alaska along the Pacific Northwest, the National Weather Service said.

The new storm was expected to be very cold, promising to lower snow levels to elevations that could make travel difficult into and through mountain ranges as it moves south through California on Saturday.

Forecasters said the atmosphere would dry out for New Year’s Eve celebrations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Weather was also expected to be dry but cloudy for the 128th Rose Parade in Pasadena, which will be held on Jan. 2 due to a never-on-Sunday rule.

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