On the heels of a week that brought the Southland dry conditions and Santa Ana winds, cold and wet weather moved into the region Saturday, bringing rain and hail to lower elevations and mountain snow.
At 5:45 p.m., pea-sized hail began falling in Long Beach, and about 5:35 p.m., Angeles Forest Highway (SR-2) was closed due to snow.
The National Weather Service said “cool and unsettled weather” through this weekend would be the first of at least three storm systems bearing down on the region.
The NWS updated its forecast at 5:48 p.m. to warn of the potential of a “very cold storm with strong winds Sunday night through Monday evening,” with “snow levels lowering to 1500-2000 feet by Monday. Potential for significant travel impacts, including (the) I-5 corridor.”
The forecast called for 2-4 inches of snow at pass level including the I-5 corridor, 4-8 inches above 4500 feet, 1-2 inches in the Antelope Valley especially foothills.
The update said widespread strong winds were possible Monday, “including widespread gales for coastal waters” and “widespread very choppy high surf expected on Monday with potential for minor coastal flooding.”
Rainfall totals of 0.2-0.5 inches were possible at lower elevations with 1/4 to 1/2 inches in the foothills and mountains.
The update warned that the Wednesday night through Friday storm “will bring the most significant precipitation to the forecast area with plenty of snow in the mountains expected. High temperatures will remain cooler than normal through next week.”
The NWS update warned that it will likely be slow moving, with a subtropical moisture source known as an Atmospheric River.
“In addition, if heavy rain rates do occur, there will be a risk of debris flows in recent burn areas … as well as a significant risk for rockslides on mountain and canyon roadways, as well as roadway flooding.”
Saturday’s rain and the forecast of cold temperatures prompted the Los Angeles County Health Officer to extend a Cold Weather Alert. “Wind chill temperatures are expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit,” the alert said. That was to include the Antelope Valley and Los Angeles County mountain areas through Thursday, Santa Clarita Valley Monday through Tuesday and Santa Monica Mountains Tuesday.
“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County Health Officer. “There are places where people can go to stay warm, such as shelters or other public facilities. We also want to remind people not to use stoves, barbecues or ovens to heat their homes due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
The statement suggested that people dress in layers of warm clothing outdoors; protect head, hands and feet from the cold by wearing a hat, scarf, gloves and socks; and bring pets indoors especially at night.
The county’s Winter Shelter Program was open to serve those without housing. Those in need, should call the L.A. County Information line at 211.
The initial front moving through the region was not expected to bring much moisture, with light rain falling early Saturday in most areas of Los Angeles County.
Saturday night was expected to be bring about one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch of rain in Los Angeles County, with up to one-third of an inch in the mountains.
About one-third of an inch of snow could fall in local mountain areas above 3,500 feet, with an inch falling across the Tejon Pass through the I-5 corridor, while the resorts in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains could see 2-3 inches through Saturday evening, according to the NWS.
Temperatures were dropping Saturday as well, with highs only expected to reach the mid-50s across the Southland, and even remaining in the 40s in many valley and mountains areas.