Fast Moving Storm System to Move Through Southern California This Weekend

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Snow is expected today and Saturday in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and a dusting of snow is possible in the Antelope Valley, thanks to a cold and fast- moving storm system, forecasters said.

In urban areas, forecasters said there's a 20 percent chance of showers in L.A. County today and a ''slight chance'' of the same in Orange County.

A winter weather advisory warning issued by the National Weather Service to warn of difficult travel conditions will be in effect in the San Gabriel Mountains from 10 this morning until 4 Saturday afternoon.

Behind the system's front, the snow level is expected to lower to between 3,500 and 4,500 feet, although it will fall to 2,500 feet in Ventura County, according to an NWS statement.

The highest snow amounts will be in Ventura County and in Los Angeles County in the vicinity of The Grapevine along Interstate 5, where ``even small accumulations ... can cause delays or even road closures,'' it said. Three to 6 inches of snow are expected in Ventura County, 2 to 4 inches in Santa Barbara County and 3 inches or less in Los Angeles County on Interstate 5 over the Grapevine.

``And a dusting of snow could occur across the Antelope Valley foothills Friday evening,'' the statement warned.

The snow level will be around 7,500 feet early this morning, ``then plummet to between 3,500 and 4,000 feet by this afternoon, then down to 2,500 feet across the northern slopes through early Saturday morning,'' according to the statement.

At the same time, strong winds will buffet the mountains. Northwest winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour gusting to 40 mph are expected in the mountains early this afternoon, increasing to between 20 and 30 mph with 50-mph gusts by tonight, persisting through early Saturday morning, the NWS said.

``Periods of snow, gusty winds, and low visibilities make for dangerous driving conditions and could lead to road closures and travel delays,'' warned the NWS statement. It said roadways likely to be affected will include Interstate 5 near The Grapevine, Los Angeles Crest Highway, Highway 33 in the mountains in Ventura County and possibly Highway 14, including the city of Acton.

In light of expected conditions, the NWS warned motorists to ``be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.'' Also, ``keep an emergency kit in your vehicle which includes a flashlight, food and water, extra clothes and blankets, and tire chains.''

Along the coast, a high surf advisory will be in force until 9 p.m. Saturday in L.A. County and 8 p.m. Saturday in Orange County.

The NWS forecast mostly cloudy weather in Los Angeles County today, along with highs of 53 on Mount Wilson; 57 in Lancaster; 58 in Palmdale; 59 in Avalon; 60 in Saugus; 63 at LAX and in Woodland Hills; 64 in Pasadena and Burbank; 65 in Downtown L.A. and San Gabriel; and 66 in Long Beach. Saturday's temperatures in L.A. County will be roughly the same or slightly lower -- up to 4 degrees in some communities -- then rise by a few degrees on Tuesday, hitting highs of 70 and 71.

Mostly cloudy skies were also forecast in Orange County, along with highs of 60 in San Clemente; 61 in Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda; 62 in Newport Beach; and 63 in Fullerton, Anaheim and Irvine. Temperatures will be the same or marginally lower Saturday and remain mostly in the 60s for several days.

Photo: Getty Images

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