- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Light rain began falling north of San Francisco on Sunday in what forecasters said was the first sign of a series of El Nino-related rainstorms to expected to bring heavy rainfall and snow to drought-parched California this week.

The first wave of rain started with light showers Sunday morning and was expected to pick up strength and cover a larger area of Northern California later in the day, the National Weather Service said.

A second, stronger storm expected to arrive Monday night and Tuesday and drop about a half an inch of rain. That system will be packed with gusty winds and heavier rain, said forecaster Johnny Powell.

Yet another round of rain and gusty winds is expected Wednesday and Thursday, when heavy rain is forecast for the Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia mountain ranges.

“Friday looks like a dry, clear day but more rain is expected Saturday,” Powell said.

Powell said about 2 feet of fresh snow are expected to fall this week in the Sierra Nevada’s highest points.

Meanwhile Southern California is bracing for a series of storms expected to begin late Sunday that could last all week.

The service said persistent rainy conditions could put some Los Angeles County communities at risk of flash flooding with mud and debris flows, especially in wildfire burn areas.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged residents to prepare for the storms by clearing gutters or anything in their yard that might clog storm drains, putting together an emergency kit and stockpiling sandbags if their home is susceptible to flooding. He said an effort was under way to provide shelter to homeless people before the storms hit.

“We want as little damage and destruction and as little death as possible,” Garcetti said at a news conference Sunday night.

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