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Timeline: When will it rain and snow in SoCal over next five days

A light snow falls along Painted Cave Road in the mountains above Santa Barbara on Thursday.
(Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)
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How unusual will the winter storms be this week across Southern California?

Over the coming days, forecasters predict periods of intense rain, snow falling at low elevations, dangerous conditions along the coast and blizzard conditions in some local mountains.

Meteorologist David Sweet, at the Oxnard National Weather Service office, said the storm was drawing comparisons to the 1989 storm that brought rare snowfall to Southern California, from Palm Springs to the hillsides of Malibu. That was also the last known time a blizzard warning was issued in the Los Angeles region.

Wednesday saw scattered hail, rain and snow along with heavy wind gusts and high surf.

Here is the projected timing for the storms, based on current forecasts.

Forecasts show Southern California mountains could get 6 inches to 5 feet of snow by Saturday, but some of the highest peaks could get up to 8 feet.

Feb. 23, 2023

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Friday

  • The most intense precipitation is set to hit the region, continuing through Saturday.
  • Snow levels are expected to drop. Some key mountain passes could face closure due to snow, and mountain roads could become impassable. The National Weather Service predicts “historic amounts of snow” continuing to accumulate through Saturday.
  • There’s a blizzard warning for Friday and Saturday, with officials urging people to avoid mountain travel. The blizzard conditions include heavy snow with wind gusts up to 75 mph and near-zero visibility, forecasters said.
  • Rainfall rates are expected to pick up in the afternoon, dumping up to an inch of rain per hour, with the possibility for flooding in some urban areas or burn scars. Mountains and foothills could see up to 10 inches of rain through Sunday.

The system is being driven by an area of low pressure off the coast of California that is slowly moving south from Canada.

Feb. 23, 2023

Saturday

  • Rains are expected to continue, with blizzard conditions in the mountains.
  • By Saturday night, snow accumulations are expected to be up to a foot for mountain regions at or above 2,000 feet in elevation, including most major mountain passes, making travel difficult.
  • At elevations above 4,000 feet, snow totals of 2 to 5 feet are expected, with isolated amounts up to 7 or 8 feet in higher elevations.
  • “The San Gabriels are definitely going to be getting the highest snow amounts, especially the eastern portion,” said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. She said specific totals for certain peaks, such as Mt. Baldy, are hard to estimate days out and given the high winds forecast, but she expected up to 96 inches there, if not more. “It’s going to be a ton of snow; there’s going to be a lot of wind.”

Sunday

  • Rains are expected to taper off by morning, but more rain is expected on Monday.

Monday

  • Cloudy with a chance of rain, especially in inland valleys. Mountains could see snow.

Tuesday

  • A 50% chance of rain along the coast and in the L.A. Basin. Snow levels dropping in mountains.

Wednesday

  • Rain likely, with snow in lower elevations of mountains.
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