Cold weather is coming to Southern California, bringing snow

Cold weather set in on Sunday in Southern California, bringing rain, cloudy skies and snowfall to the mountains.

The weather sweeping in from the north is expected to drop 6 to 10 inches of snow at elevations above 5,000 feet in the San Gabriel Mountains, and up to a foot of snow at high elevations in the Riverside Mountains, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

The National Weather Service said the cold weather will bring snow to elevations as low as 2,500 feet and could leave up to 2 inches on mountain passes, including the Grapevine on Interstate 5. Forecasters have warned that snow could make driving slippery on roads in the mountains.

The low-pressure system came over land from Canada, said David Sweet, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard.

“There is a lot of cold air with it. And that’s going to drop our snow levels pretty low,” Sweet said.

“Slippery roads are possible. Snow should affect the Grapevine. So there could be dangerous road conditions,” Sweet said. “People above 2,500 to 3,000 feet should be prepared for the possibility of winter road conditions.”

In the Los Angeles area, light rain was expected, with highs in the mid-50s and overnight lows in the 40s.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for mountainous areas of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties, forecasting heavy snowfall and wind gusts of 30 mph to 60 mph in some areas.

In the mountains of Los Angeles County, 2 to 5 inches of snow was forecast between 3,000 feet and 4,500 feet, with 4 to 8 inches of snow at higher elevations.

Parts of the high desert are also expected to get snow – up to 3 inches in the foothills of Antelope Valley, and somewhere between a trace of snow and an inch on the valley floor around Palmdale.

“Some people who aren’t used to snow will probably get to see some snow,” Sweet said.

Elsewhere in the state, the weather brought showers to the Central Valley and fresh snow to the Sierra Nevada. After 10 days without snow, about 0.8 inches of snow fell Sunday morning at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab in Donner Pass, with more falling.

The fresh snowfall brought a slight addition to the Sierra’s snowpack after storms in the first half of January gave California its deepest snowfall in years. The snow water equivalent of the Sierra Nevada snowpack is now 214% of average for this time of year, which has significantly boosted California’s water supply after three years of severe drought.

Snowfall in this latest weather system “isn’t too impactful compared to what we’ve seen for the first half of January,” said Katrina Hand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. She said 3 to 8 inches of snow was expected over the mountain passes, with greater amounts at higher elevations.

In parts of the Sierra Nevada, drivers have been asked to use chains.

“If people have mountain travel plans, expect travel delays and slippery roads,” Hand said.

The storm was expected to drift south off the coast of Southern California by Monday evening, leaving snow-capped mountains under clear skies by Tuesday.

Los Angeles Times

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