Winter weather could complicate motorists' holiday travel

Southern Californians seeking a taste of winter weather will get their wish this Christmas as a cold storm system swings through the region, bringing chilly temperatures, rain and even snow in the mountains.

The storm is expected to blanket portions of Interstate 5 with powder and ice, affecting holiday travel through the Grapevine in Tejon Pass on Thursday night and into Friday morning.

Forecasters also expect winds gusts of up to 45 mph to toss that snow around throughout the evening.

“If somebody is planning to travel out there, they should find another route,” said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service.

Winter conditions during previous years have forced the California Highway Patrol to shut down Interstate 5 in that area, a move that has sometimes stranded vehicles and dampened holiday cheer.

The NWS has issued a weather advisory for the mountains of northern Ventura County and northwestern Los Angeles County, warning of snow-covered roads and limited visibility. The advisory is scheduled from 10 p.m. Thursday to noon Friday.

Seto said mountain areas at high elevations could see between 2 and 5 inches of snow.

But the rest of Los Angeles County will not be immune to the rough weather. Forecasts call for a 30% chance of rain Thursday night that will linger into Friday morning and disappear by the afternoon.

Seto said the light rainfall is normal for this time of year. Even average or slightly above-average levels of rain and snow have been helpful as the state tries to avoid a fifth year of drought.

As of Thursday, the water content of the state's snowpack was 110% of average for the date. Last year at this time, it was a little more than half the average.

Rainfall in a critical part of the Sierra was just slightly above average for the date.

Closer to home, temperatures are also dropping. In downtown L.A., daytime highs over the Christmas holiday are expected to reach between 62 and 64 degrees, Seto said. Average highs are closer to 67, he said.

Low temperatures overnight will also be a few degrees colder than normal, he said, dropping into the lower 40s.

“We're a little on the chillier side,” Seto said, adding that the cold conditions will probably continue through Tuesday.

 

matt.stevens@latimes.com 

For more on the California drought and water, follow me on Twitter @ByMattStevens 

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