Cold storm to strike Southland today

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A cold storm bore down on the Southland today, promising to bring the lowest snow levels seen so far this season, along with low temperatures, gusty winds and icy roads, after it reaches the region this afternoon, forecasters said.

But dry conditions will return Friday through early next week as temperatures begin increasing.

In the meantime, with a cold air mass gripping the region, frost advisories are in force this morning in the Santa Clarita Valley and the western reaches of the San Fernando Valley.

National Weather Service forecasters said showers could start in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties this morning, spreading into Ventura and Los Angeles counties by this afternoon or evening.

They said rainfall amounts are expected to be less than 0.25 inches across coastal and valley areas, with between 0.25 and 0.50 inches across the foothills and mountains. But some areas could get more rain in the event of more intensive showers or thunderstorms.

Snow levels are expected to range between 3,000 and 3,500 feet today, falling to between 2,500 and 3,000 feet tonight and to 1,500 feet Thursday, according to an NWS statement.

Snow amounts are generally expected to range between 1 to 3 inches in the San Gabriel Mountains and foothills above 2,500 feet, although accumulation of 3 to 6 inches is possible in the eastern San Gabriels.

Elevations between 1,500 and 2,500 feet could potentially see a dusting to minor accumulations of snow. This includes the Antelope Valley, the Santa Monica Mountains, the higher valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and coastal foothills, the statement said.

Winter Weather advisories denoting dreadful travel conditions will be issued for all mountains and the Antelope Valley, according to the NWS. Major low elevation roadways at risk for snow showers and icy road include Interstate 5 from the Grapevine to the Santa Clarita Valley, the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway and Pearblossom (138) Highway through the Antelope Valley and Soledad Canyon, plus points north, including San Luis Obispo County roads.

The very cold air aloft will help to destabilize the atmosphere on Thursday, bringing the threat of brief heavy downpours, small hail, and even a slight chance of thunderstorms. But by Friday, the system will have moved to Arizona, and the Southland will be sunny and cool, with highs still in the 50s, with a warming trend to follow Saturday through Tuesday.

The NWS forecast showers in L.A. County today and highs of 37 degrees on Mount Wilson; 47 in Lancaster; 48 in Palmdale; 51 in Saugus; 54 in Avalon; 55 in Pasadena and Burbank; 56 in San Gabriel; 57 in Woodland Hills and at LAX; and 58 in Downtown L.A. and Long Beach. Similar conditions are expected Thursday, followed by slightly higher temperatures and sunny and partly cloudy skies through Tuesday.

Showers are also forecast in Orange County today, along with highs of 32 on Santiago Peak; 45 on Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 50 in Fremont Canyon; 51 in Trabuco Canyon; 54 in Yorba Linda; 55 in Laguna Beach, San Clemente and Mission Viejo; 56 in Newport Beach; 57 in Anaheim and Irvine; and 58 in Fullerton. Similar conditions are expected Thursday, followed by higher temperatures and mostly sunny weather.

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