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Oscars hoping for sun but ready for rain on show day as season's first storm hits Hollywood

Johnny Tamayo pushes an Oscar statue as preparations are made for the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. The Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

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Johnny Tamayo pushes an Oscar statue as preparations are made for the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. The Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Like the annual Tournament of Roses parade, the Oscars are usually blessed with standard Southern California weather: sunshine and blue skies.

That could be the case again this year, but not until the first major storm to hit Los Angeles this winter gives the area a major dousing.

The National Weather Service predicts heavy rain Thursday night and Friday, with showers Saturday that could continue through Oscar Sunday.

"We're prepared to welcome our guests regardless of the weather," said Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokeswoman Teni Melidonian, adding that she expects clear skies for the big show.

Hollywood Boulevard is already blanketed with red carpet, which is protected with plastic wrap. The whole arrivals area — the carpet, fan bleachers, interview stages and photographers' risers — is topped with a clear plastic tent that stretches from the intersection of Hollywood and Highland boulevards to the front of the Dolby Theatre.

That's standard practice, said Joe Lewis, associate producer of the red carpet pre-show.

"We're as prepared as we can be," he said.

His team constructed new rain gutters for the plastic tent this year to help keep the carpet pristine during the storm.

"There's no perfect science to rain planning," Lewis said. "It's going to leak. There's going to be rain. We're just trying to keep it as dry as possible for show day."

Even if Sunday promises perfect weather, things have to dry out by Saturday night for Lewis' team to remove the tent. Prep work continues overnight through Sunday morning, he said, with lots of props and gear that need to stay dry.

"There is a point of no return, and we believe that is somewhere between 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday night. That is every year," he said. "Last year was the first year in a couple decades that we never put any tents up at all. We're not as fortunate this year."

Drought-stricken California needs the rain, of course, even if Oscar prefers sunshine.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at http://www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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