Southern California may be poised for some sprinkle this week, but don't reach for the umbrellas yet, weather forecasters said today.

A storm drifting down from Northern California is expected to bring a slight chance of rain as early as Tuesday night with a 50-percent chance by Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

"There's shower possibilities - first fall rain," said Weather Specialist Bonnie Bartling. "We're generally talking across the region 0.1 inch, or up to .5 inch if there's a thunderstorm.

"Have (an umbrella) handy in the car trunk. Or use it as a walking stick."

Sun was expected today, with clouds beginning to blanket the region Tuesday, with colder-than-normal highs into the low-to-mid 70s, with lows around 55.

Warming is expected Friday through Sunday, as the low-pressure system moves east.Los Angeles has experienced a somewhat dry rainy season, with .01 inches downtown since July 1. Normal rainfall to date is .41 inches. By this time last year, L.A. had 1.15 inches.

Some are calling this year's rainy season "La Nada," based on the relatively neutral average Pacific Ocean temperature that can determine wet El Ni o or dry La Ni a winters.

The average rainfall for downtown is 15.14 inches. But California either swings wet or dry, with La Nada bringing near-record wet 37.25 inches in 2004-05 and a record dry 3.21 inches in 2006-07.

"Since early spring and summer, the National Weather Service was touting an El Ni o - with a greater chance of rain for SoCal.


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But recently, El Nino took a belly flop," said Southern California climate guru Bill Patzert, climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Ca ada-Flintridge.

"So right now it looks like what I call La Nada - neither a wet El Ni o nor a dray La Ni a, he said. "So the rainfall this winter is up in the air - it could go either way."