April showers drop rain and snow in the Southland, possibly the last of the season
Video of cars driving in rain and snow
The late April showers that brought rain and snow to parts of Southern California early Friday morning may be the last of the season, forecasters said.
The low-pressure storm system arrived in the Los Angeles area around midnight Thursday and dropped brief but heavy rainfall in some areas, including flooding on the 110 Freeway near Highland Park that caused at least one car to collide with a wall and another to lose a bumper as it sped into pooling water. The rain is also being blamed for the partial collapse of a roof at a Target store in Alhambra.
A flood advisory for parts of Los Angeles County, including the San Gabriel Valley and coastal areas, expired at 3:15 a.m.
But overall totals were less than an inch, the National Weather Service said. Pasadena recorded .88 inches of rain, while downtown L.A. saw about .33 inches and LAX about .23.
Mike Wofford, a meteorologist with the weather service in Oxnard, said the storm may mark the end of moisture for the season, with hot, dry and windy conditions expected to settle in over the weekend.
“We don’t really see any [rain] coming in the next couple of weeks,” Wofford said. “That puts us pretty much into May, and the chances of any precipitation at that point — at least any meaningful precipitation — are really low. The chances are that this is the last one.”
This week’s storm only moved L.A.’s January-to-March period from the second-driest winter on record to the seventh-driest.
The storm did leave a mark as it dropped rain and snow across the Southland before sunrise on Friday. In the San Bernardino Mountains, heavy snow, hail and lightning fell in parts of Big Bear and Running Springs.
Northern California also experienced a blast of moisture this week, with deep snow across the southern Cascades and the northern Sierra Nevada snarling traffic and making a mess of conditions. Tornado warnings were issued in Rancho Calaveras, Valley Springs and San Andreas on Thursday, and forecasters said they received several reports of funnel clouds.
Winter storm warnings remained in effect from Yosemite to the south end of the upper Sierra Nevada through 11 a.m. Friday, where additional snow accumulations of up to 18 inches were possible.
The fresh powder was a welcome surprise after an abysmal rainy season saw snowpack dwindle across the state. The final snow survey of the season, conducted April 1, found Sierra snow at just 38% of average for the date, with officials warning that California was moving into its third year of extreme drought.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update, released Thursday, noted “beneficial moisture” in Northern California in recent weeks, but said dry, often windy weather had deteriorated conditions in the Southwest. More than 95% of the state was classified under severe or extreme drought, up from about 66% three months ago.
California’s snowpack stands at 38% of average. Facing extreme drought worsened by climate change, state officials urge residents to save water.
Though some parts of Southern California were expected to see lingering moisture early Friday morning, most areas were expected to dry out by the early afternoon.
Wofford said high temperatures Friday would be in the 60s, with “quite a bit of wind” paving the way for a mild Santa Ana event over the weekend.
By Sunday and Monday, temperatures will rise to the high 80s and low 90s and conditions will be notably dry with humidity in the single digits, he said. Near-record temperatures are likely on Monday.
Though heat, wind and dryness are typically a recipe for fire weather, he said the April showers helped dampen the potential for danger.
“We measure the amount of moisture in the vegetation out there, and it’s still pretty high, which would just would slow down any fire progress,” he said. “We’re going to have to wait another month or two before these things really start drying out.”
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