Hail, rain, snow and wind whip Southern California

Spring storm drops an inch of rain in O.C., snow in local mountains

Drivers in Southern California’s mountains were told to use tire chains and urban commuters were cautioned to slow down Friday as a spring storm dropped rain and snow from Santa Barbara to San Diego counties.

The storm moved in Thursday night, bringing more than half an inch of rain to Whittier and nearly as much to Pomona and Claremont, where the brief, heavy downpours were mixed with hail, the National Weather Service reported.

The storm was stronger in Orange County, where quick downpours in fire-scarred areas could trigger mudflows. More than an inch of rain fell in Silverado Canyon, but no incidents have been reported, the weather service said.

Snow was below 5,000 feet in the mountains, forcing drivers to use chains to get through some windy passes.

“It’s kind of like a normal winter storm, but it’s a little bit late,” said meteorologist James Brotherton. “By midday today, just about everywhere will have seen some rain.”

The downpours were heaviest overnight and will dissipate by the afternoon or evening, forecasters said. Strong winds are still expected along the coast with cooler temperatures.

The storm offered  temporary relief for Southern Californians longing for rain but does virtually nothing for the enduring drought. The amount of snow that fell is too little to build up any legitimate snowpack and the storm isn’t strong enough to make a large contribution to local reservoirs, forecasters said.

A new study by the U.S. Forest Service tried to assess the scope of the problem in terms of tree loss. Researchers estimated that the drought has killed off at least 12.5 million trees in California’s national forests.

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