Southern California communities still drying out from the recent wet weather should prepare for another storm late next week, this one with the potential to drop snow levels and clog travel on mountain passes, the National Weather Service said Saturday.
A strong, cold upper-level low-pressure system forming over the eastern Pacific was expected to bring heavy periods of rain, gusty winds and colder temperatures to the region between Thursday and Friday night, said Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist in the Oxnard office.
Coastal and valley areas could see 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, with 3 to 5 inches expected in the foothills and mountains. Rainfall rates of half an inch per hour and isolated thunderstorms are possible.
The snow level will be around 8,500 feet on Thursday but is expected to drop to between 4,000 to 5,000 feet by Friday morning. Snow could affect travel on the Tejon Pass on Interstate 5 and the Soledad Pass on California 14 in Los Angeles County.
Wind gusts of over 50 mph are possible at higher elevations.
Residents in areas recently burned by wildfires were urged to be alert to potential flash flooding and mudslides.
"We want to stress the potential so that people can think about sandbags and emergency managers might want to think about getting extra help on those days, just preparedness," Bartling said. The forecast "will be finalized as we get a couple of days from the storm."
Any precipitation from the storm will be a welcome addition: 18 to 21 inches more rain is needed over the next six month to end the state's persistent drought, officials said.
The most recent storm dumped only about 1.5 inches on downtown Los Angeles.