Winter storm will bring rain, mountain snow to Southern California on Christmas

Traffic on the 5 Freeway over the Tejon Pass
Traffic on the 5 Freeway over the Tejon Pass during last month’s Thanksgiving week storm.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A cold winter storm will bring widespread rain and mountain snow to Southern California late Wednesday into Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Snow levels will dip as low as 2,500 feet, and up to 8 inches could accumulate in the Antelope Valley. The Cuyama Valley could receive 3 inches of snow. Higher elevations of the L.A. and Ventura county mountains could see up to 2 feet of snow, especially above 6,000 feet.

Interstate 5 elevation profile
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

The biggest impact from this storm is likely to be low snow levels affecting major roads and communities, including the Antelope Valley, the weather service warned, adding that the storm is similar in pattern to the one last month over Thanksgiving.


Road closures and whiteout conditions caused by blowing snow could create significant travel delays through mountain passes, including the 5 Freeway over the Grapevine. Snow levels are expected to lower rapidly. The summit of the Tejon Pass, over which Interstate 5 carries traffic through the Tehachapis to the Central Valley, is 4,144 feet. The Cajon Pass is 3,776 feet where Interstate 15 heads out toward Barstow and then on to Las Vegas.

Winter storm watches will be in effect for most mountain areas beginning Wednesday. Strong, gusty northeasterly winds will develop across much of the area on Thursday.

Map of winter storm warnings across Southern California
Winter storm watches and warnings will be in effect for most of the mountains of Southern California on Wednesday.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

The storm will peak Wednesday night into Thursday. At lower elevations, heavy rain totaling up to 2 inches could cause flash flooding and shallow debris flows near burn scars. Power outages are also possible with the heavy rain and strong winds.

Cold, breezy and icy conditions will follow the storm. The coasts and valleys are likely to see temperatures from 35 to 45 degrees on Friday morning, with 20s and 30s in the mountains and deserts.