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Forecasts for Southern California are finally rain free, after days of drenching weather — and a possible tornado

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After five days of drenching rains and heavy snow, primarily driven by a relentless atmospheric river storm that caused widespread flooding, mudslides and power outages, Southern California should finally start to dry out.

“For the next week or so, it looks like it’s dry,” Mike Wofford, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard, said Thursday. Sunshine is even in the forecast for Friday, and a “slow warming trend” should kick into gear early next week, forecasters said.

But it’s far from the end of the wet, winter season, with the latest long-range forecasts showing a return of heavy precipitation and high-elevation snow by Feb. 17, according to the national Climate Prediction Center.

“We are expecting probably something the following weekend, in like nine days or so,” Wofford said, but the amount of rain or specifics of a storm are still too far out for specific predictions.

Wednesday evening brought the final surge of rainfall for Los Angeles County, from a low pressure system that brought some downpours and flash flood warnings. Wofford said up to an inch of rain fell in some higher elevations and a quarter- or half-inch countywide, which pushed five-day rainfall totals even higher, hitting over 14 inches in some places, including Topanga and Cogswell Dam north of Monrovia.

As of Thursday morning, downtown Los Angeles had received 9.03 inches since Saturday — more than half its average yearly rainfall of 14.25.

The weather service also reported there was a probable tornado in the Pismo and Grover Beach area Wednesday afternoon, where wind gusts from the storm pushed 60 mph, downing trees and power lines. The Oxnard office of the National Weather Service had not yet confirmed the tornado, but was planning to assess damage Thursday to “determine if the damage in this area was due to a tornado, or severe straight-line winds.”

Wednesday’s storm also brought further snow to the Southern California mountains, accumulating totals up to 3 feet, officials said. The blanketed mountains caused widespread school closures Thursday with conditions still treacherous, including at Bear Valley Unified, Rim of the World Unified and Snowline Joint Unified, which includes Wrightwood.

As of late Wednesday, Mt. Baldy in San Bernardino County had about 3 feet of snow, as did Mountain High and Snow Valley.

The Riverside County mountains, including Idyllwild, remained under a winter storm warning through noon Thursday, with up to 7 inches of additional snow possible.

Farther south, the rains were still lingering, according to Elizabeth Adams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. San Diego County was expected to see continued showers through early Friday, before dry weather kicked in for the weekend.

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