Get ready for more rain, snow as rare May storm hits Southern California tonight

Three people walk barefoot on the beach along the shore in Santa Monica.
People walk barefoot along the beach while it rains in Santa Monica in January.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A rare storm in May is expected to hit Southern California on Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm is expected to last through Thursday morning, with a slight chance of drizzle Saturday morning as a low-pressure system lingers in the area, said Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“This is one of the weaker storms,” Lund said. “It’s unusual because of the time of year. Since it’s May, we don’t typically see a lot of storms like this. It’s nothing compared to the Jan. 9 and 10 storms when we had that widespread flooding and debris flows.”


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Rainfall totals are expected to range from half an inch to an inch along the coast and valleys, while the foothills and mountains could get 1 to 2 inches.

Snow levels could level to about 4,000 to 4,500 feet; areas with elevations above 6,000 feet could see 4 to 8 inches of snow, with localized areas getting 14 inches.

There’s some instability with the storm and about 20% chance of thunderstorms, according to Lund. Local heavy downpours could last up to 15 minutes and include hail and graupel. Winds could range between 30 mph to 40 mph.

The weather service warned of roadway flooding and driving could be hazardous because of wet roads. Winter driving conditions are also possible above 6,000 feet in elevation.

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Lund said the storms should push back the start of fire season, which typically begins in late summer for Southern California. During the spring, the flowers pull water from the ground moisture that adds to the surface, further dampening fuels.

“It’ll help when we go into the drier season,” she said. “We’ll definitely have a later fire season than expected.”