Newsletter: Everything you need to know about the Thanksgiving storm

(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Nov. 27, and I’m writing from Los Angeles. After today, we’ll be taking the rest of the week off for the holiday and will return on Dec. 2.

If you’re reading this newsletter in California, it’s probably raining outside. Or will soon be raining. Or maybe it’s snowing.

Regardless, the first major storm of the season has arrived, and it’s moving fast enough that the whole state will be “suffering together” on Wednesday, as Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, put it.


“Suffering not because it’s going be that bad of a storm, but because the timing is so rotten,” Hoxsie clarified. “The day before Thanksgiving, that’s really unfortunate.” Indeed. The weather conditions are likely to bring significant travel delays, road closures and dangerous driving conditions to many parts of the state.

Here’s what you need to know, and what’s to come.

What’s happening in Northern California

The cold front, which originated in the Gulf of Alaska, arrived in the northern part of the state on Tuesday, bringing rain and strong winds to the Bay Area, and snow and road closures to the Sierras. Showers, lowering snow levels and possible thunderstorms are forecast for the Bay Area on Wednesday, with rain likely to taper off from north to south on Thursday.

[See also: “Storm slams into Northern California with heavy snow, rain” in the Los Angeles Times]

What’s happening in Southern California

According to Hoxsie, rain will probably hit the Central Coast just after midnight and reach Los Angeles County by early Wednesday morning. Firefighters were hopeful that the rain might bring some relief on the Cave fire in Santa Barbara County.

The rain in Southern California will grow heavier throughout the day, with the heaviest rain and snowfall expected from late afternoon into the night. Thursday and Friday will see more showers and potential thunderstorms, with clearer skies likely on Saturday.


Driving conditions

Travel will be challenging in many parts of the state on Wednesday. Snow is expected to snarl traffic in the Southern California mountains Wednesday. And starting Wednesday night and ending Friday, up to six inches of snow could fall along the Grapevine section of Interstate 5. Alternative routes on Highways 14 and 58 could also be hit with snow.

What does this mean for areas that recently burned?

With parts of California yet again burned by severe fires, the state is facing a winter of potential mudslides. Hillsides become vulnerable to erosion when the protective blanket of vegetation is burned off, and slopes can come crashing down in a torrent of mud, rocks and dead branches.

[Read the story: “Threat of mudslides returns to California after devastating fires. How do they work?” in the Los Angeles Times]


The storm brings the potential for debris flows in burn-scarred areas in Southern California, including the San Fernando Valley region affected by the Saddleridge fire and the Easy fire in Simi Valley.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


Firefighters continued to struggle with the wind-driven Cave fire, which forced thousands from their homes in Santa Barbara County. But they were hopeful that rain could bolster their efforts by late Tuesday evening. Los Angeles Times


Tomorrow, millions of people will gather at family tables to give thanks, eat turkey and celebrate a holiday born out of a dark history. As immigrants from El Salvador and Armenia, Times writer Esmeralda Bermudez and her husband know about the sorrow of having their pasts rewritten, and their peoples’ genocide and massacres neglected or denied in history books. In this essay, Bermudez grapples with how to speak to her young daughter about Thanksgiving and this nation’s story, along with her and her husband’s own personal histories. Los Angeles Times


To keep these mentally ill Angelenos housed, L.A. is looking to Sacramento for help: Alarmed by the shuttering of dozens of board and care homes that serve low-income people with debilitating mental illnesses, Los Angeles officials are stepping up their lobbying efforts to secure more funding in next year’s state budget. Los Angeles Times

L.A. could have 30 new homeless shelters, but the county is refusing to pay for them. If all 30 shelters are completed, the city of L.A. will add more than 2,300 beds to its inventory. Los Angeles Times


“If turkey means Thanksgiving, then tamales are definitely Christmas.” Here’s where to find some of the best tamales in L.A. for the holiday season. L.A. Taco

How hot chicken sandwiches conquered San Fernando Valley car washes. Deep-fried entrepreneurs have gravitated toward a particular locale: the car wash parking lot. LAist

Bangkok Market, the first Thai market in Los Angeles, has closed. Chef and television personality Jet Tila’s family opened the market in 1972. Los Angeles Times

A shelf at Bangkok Market on Melrose Avenue. The market closed on Nov. 18.
A shelf at Bangkok Market on Melrose Avenue. The market closed on Nov. 18.


Most city workers pay $0 in healthcare premiums. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’d change that. He hasn’t. Los Angeles Times

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The effort to impeach President Trump still has months to run, but it already has produced at least one clear winner: Rep. Adam B. Schiff. The Burbank congressman has emerged from two weeks of public hearings as a rising star among Democrats, one with enhanced power to aid his House colleagues even as he bedevils the president. Los Angeles Times


Escalating a legal battle with California cities and counties over where marijuana can be sold, state officials are intervening in a new court fight over home delivery of cannabis in communities that have banned or restricted pot shops. Los Angeles Times


Twenty-two people were arrested in Oakland after dozens of protesters set up tents outside City Hall to bring attention to the treatment of homeless people. San Francisco Chronicle

The California Restaurant Assn. is suing Berkeley over the city’s decision to ban natural gas in many new buildings. Berkeley’s City Council unanimously passed the ban in July. Berkeleyside



Wildfires have helped push Northern California’s wild turkeys into more urban areas. And they’re staying. Redding Record-Searchlight

The aging Oroville Dam spillway gates draw concern. Despite increased maintenance of Oroville Dam since the spillway fell apart in February 2017, members of a community-led group are worried about the age and wear of mechanics within the spillway’s main gates, citing similar failures on dams of the same era. Chico Enterprise-Record



Twitter will remove inactive accounts and free up usernames in December. The Verge

This California town has the slowest internet in the country. Newcastle is an unincorporated, rural community about a half-hour drive from Sacramento. Salinas Californian

Black Sacramento entrepreneurs are calling on shoppers to “buy black” this Black Friday. A two-day bazaar where more than 100 vendors — the majority of them black-owned businesses — will be held this Friday and Saturday. Sacramento Bee

Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge will soon have a permanent suicide-prevention barrier. No one seems thrilled about the proposed additions to the historic bridge, but most agree that a barrier is necessary. Pasadena Star-News



Los Angeles: rain, 59. San Diego: rain, 63. San Francisco: rain, 51. San Jose: rain, 50. Sacramento: cloudy, 53. More weather is here.


“I try to memorize impermanence: / The strange alarming beauty of the sky, / The white moon’s path, the twilight’s deep, blue eye.”

— California poet Leslie Monsour, “Parking Lot”


If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.