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Rain headed to Southern California, snow to the Sierra

A person is silhouetted by a cloudy sky at the Panorama Nature Preserve in Fullerton
A visitor takes a photo at the Panorama Nature Preserve in Fullerton on Dec. 5. Rain and snow are expected with a storm headed to Southern California this weekend.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
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Another storm is moving south through California this weekend, bringing rain across the state and pounding Northern California with snow.

Forecasters say the wet weather will begin early Saturday morning in Southern California, with possible light showers across San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Heavier rains will hit Los Angeles County late Saturday evening into early Sunday morning, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Valleys and coastal areas can expect 1 to 2 inches of rain, while 2 to 5 inches are projected in the mountains and hills. The San Gabriel Mountains and Santa Barbara County foothills will get most of the rain, weather experts said.

The storm will bring snow that should benefit the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack and help boost the state’s water storage during one of the driest periods in California history.

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Weather experts were optimistic about the state’s rainfall totals so far this year, which began Oct. 1 and are healthy in some areas, including L.A. and Santa Barbara counties. “We are right about on pace what we normally would be, and this storm would push all the areas above pace,” Kittell said.

Unlike the storm earlier this week “that just died once it got past Santa Barbara County,” this one will be steadier, Kittell said.

“This storm does look like it will hold together and deliver pretty uniform amounts of rain through … really all of southwest California,” Kittell said.

Northern California was bracing for another big winter storm early Friday, after a more moderate overnight system dumped 2 to 7 inches of snow over the Sierra Nevada and 9 to 14 inches in the northern coastal range and Shasta County, weather officials said.

More than a dozen ski resorts were at least partially open Friday morning, including Soda Springs, which reported 22 inches of fresh power, and Palisades Tahoe, which reported 6 inches. Mammoth Mountain — the most popular resort for Southern California skiers — reported all of its runs open, with more than 100 inches of packed powder.

“We are in a break between our two storms right now,” Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said. “The next storm will be significantly stronger, probably one of the strongest of the year up to this point.”

A winter storm warning is in effect for the coastal range from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Sunday. The weather service also issued a winter storm warning for the Sierra Nevada above 3,500 feet from 10 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Monday. A wind advisory is in effect from midnight through 3 p.m. Saturday.

Forecasters predict 2 to 5 feet of snow locally and up to 6 feet at the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and 1 to 3 feet locally, with up to 5 feet at peaks above 3,500 feet over the Southern Cascades and Coastal Range. Road conditions will deteriorate rapidly with near-zero visibility at times, the weather service said, advising motorists to finish their mountain travel Friday afternoon.


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