The mountains of Southern California saw the first snowfall of the season Thursday morning as a cold front lingered over the region, bringing cool temperatures, winds and rain.
Mountainous areas from Los Angeles County to San Diego County saw up to 2 inches of snow, accompanied by winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting up to 45 mph, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.
Big Bear even experienced lightning on Thursday, said Elizabeth Schenk, a meteorologist with the San Diego National Weather Service, calling the phenomenon a “thunderstorm.”
“It’s a thunderstorm, but instead of rain, it’s snow,” Schenk said. “You don’t see much here, so it can be quite exciting.”
A winter weather advisory for the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties was in effect until 10 a.m., and motorists on Interstate 5 were warned of potentially dangerous driving conditions on the Grapevine.
The mountains of San Diego County were also the subject of a winter weather advisory early Thursday, with an additional 1 to 2 inches of snow expected, officials said.
“There are pretty heavy showers and snow showers,” Schenk said.
Across the region, Thursday to Friday temperatures are expected to be in the mid-50s to low 70s, with strong winds – especially along the coast – making the air even cooler. Mountainous areas should be 20 to 30 degrees cooler than usual on Thursday, she said, with highs near Big Bear reaching the mid-30s.
Thursday will “definitely be the coldest day of the week,” Schenk said. “We expect to bounce back a bit tomorrow, but temperatures are still going to be below normal everywhere.”
A freeze watch has been issued Thursday night through Friday morning for Antelope Valley and other areas north of Ventura County, including the Ojai Valley, with temperatures dropping as low as 28 degrees. .
The Malibu Coast and Santa Monica Mountains are subject to a wind advisory Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, with gusts up to 40 mph expected, according to the National Weather Service. The Santa Clarita Valley is under a similar wind advisory, with strong gusts expected Thursday morning through early Friday.
Winds remained high along the coast, Schenk said, with Huntington Beach seeing winds of 35 mph early Thursday, and San Clemente beaches recording gusts of up to 50 mph.
Much of the region’s snow-free precipitation fell Thursday morning, although forecasts indicate that further storms moving through the region early next week will likely bring more rain.
Some areas saw relatively heavy rainfall this week, nearly 2 inches in the northern Inland Empire’s Lytle Creek Canyon and 1.26 inches at the San Gabriel Dam in northern Los Angeles County, records show.
The rain is “just about over, today there are only a few snow showers in the mountains,” Boldt said Thursday. But by Monday and Tuesday of next week, Boldt said a new system should move through the region, bringing a good chance of rain, along with more winds and cooler temperatures.
“It could be persistent rain through Wednesday,” Boldt said.
Some climate experts are optimistic that back-to-back storms bring a relatively consistent view of California’s drought-starved terrain. David Swain, climatologist at UCLA, noted the increase in precipitation across the state could have many positive benefits – especially if it continues to bring steady rains without intense storms – including end fire season in Northern California.
Los Angeles Times