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Best day to travel ahead of Christmas? Tuesday, forecasters say

Snowfall in Wrightwood
Snowboarder Malcolm Pope of Carlsbad catches air in Wrightwood, Calif., on Nov. 27. The Southland is facing another soggy holiday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Planning to drive up the Grapevine or into the mountains this holiday week? National Weather Service meteorologist Kathy Hoxsie has some advice for you:

“Right now, just drop everything, head on up,” she said Sunday morning. “Or Tuesday should also be a good day to travel.”

That’s because the first of two storm systems this week is moving its way southeast from the Gulf of Alaska across California, due to hit Los Angeles County by late Sunday afternoon, Hoxsie said. About half an inch of rain is expected along the coast and coastal valleys through Monday, with up to 2 inches in south-facing foothills.

From 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected over the same period in Los Angeles County mountain areas above 5,000 feet, she said. Big Bear in San Bernardino County could see more than 6 inches.

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Later Sunday, steady rain is expected across the region, a possible dampener of Angelenos’ holiday spirits, as on Thanksgiving. On Monday, scattered showers are forecast throughout the day, she said.

“We have a bit of a break on Tuesday,” she said. “Then Wednesday and Thursday, unfortunately, we have another system that comes in. Right now it doesn’t look quite as wet, it looks more showery. But we’re still not completely certain about that. … The bottom line is, Wednesday and Thursday look wet.”

During the storms, snow flurries could reach elevations as low as the Grapevine. If the rain encounters a cold, dry easterly wind, it could result in snow on the 5 Freeway through the Tehachapi Mountains.

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“We’re hoping people kind of get the storyline that Tuesday is the best day for travel ahead of Christmas,” Hoxsie said, “and then Friday and Saturday look best.”

Motorists are urged to take along tire chains and snacks in case of heavy traffic and unexpected weather changes, she said.

Staff writer Paul Duginski contributed to this story.


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