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A blast of rain and snow coming to Southern California ahead of spring break

People walk in the rain along Broadway in downtown Los Angeles last week.
People had to break out their umbrellas while walking along Broadway in downtown Los Angeles last week. Angelenos will need those umbrellas again as rain is expected later this week.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A winter storm that doused the Bay Area on Tuesday is moving into Southern California, bringing rain and the potential for hail to much of the Los Angeles area and snow to the mountains.

Angelenos can expect steady rain early Wednesday till noon, and snow is expected above 3,500 feet as early as Tuesday night, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Between 6 and 12 inches of snow is expected in the mountains, and snow levels will drop Wednesday morning, creating potential problems on upper-elevation roadways.

The cold front is expected to dump one-half to 1 inch of rain across L.A. County, while a half-inch more could fall on the foothills. Kittell said there’s also a good chance of thunder and lightning.

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“Lighting is a hazard people underestimate,” he said. “If you hear thunder, go inside and seek shelter.”

The late-winter storm could produce wind gusts up to 50 mph amid plummeting temperatures, forecasters said. Small hail is especially likely late Wednesday afternoon, according to an advisory.

The system is expected to move inland Thursday, but a smaller front could bring isolated thunderstorms throughout the day.

High surf and dangerous rip currents are also expected through Thursday, according to an advisory. Gusty west to northwest winds could create dangerous boating and driving conditions.

The winter weather could also bring dangerous driving conditions.

A 24-hour winter storm warning will go into effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday for the Los Angeles County mountains, excluding the Santa Monica mountain range. Snow is possible in the foothills around the Antelope and Cuyama valleys, forecasters warned.

Snow could blanket Highway 14 and the Antelope Valley foothills, threatening reduced visibility that could delay traffic. Higher elevations of the 5 Freeway, including the Grapevine, could see closures late Tuesday through Thursday.

L.A. County extended a cold weather alert for the Antelope Valley and the mountains through Saturday in anticipation of below-freezing temperatures.

“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, L.A. County’s health officer. “Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside.”

Drier weather is expected to return by Friday.

This week’s winter storms are not likely to make much of a dent in what has been a critically dry year for California.

December, January and February are typically the wettest part of the water year, which starts Oct. 1. L.A.'s average rainfall total in January is 3.12 inches, but only 2.44 inches fell this January.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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