Powerful Storm Hits Southland; Snow Closes Grapevine

Raindrops are seen on a vehicle's windsh

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Thanksgiving storm out of the Gulf of Alaska could bring enough rainfall in the Southland today to push the seasonal precipitation totals to near-normal levels while bringing snow to the mountains and Antelope Valley, causing rough seas and wreaking havoc on the region's roads, forecasters said.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Curt Kaplan said the coastal areas could get one-half to one inch more rain with 2 to 4 inches in the mountains and foothills, 6 to 12 inches of snow in most mountain locations but between 12 and 24 inches in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Forecasters warned of “significant holiday travel delays and road closures with major snow impacts and roadway flooding at lower elevations. They also warned of significant flight delays, possible flash floods and debris flows over recent burn areas.

The Grapevine could get 3 to 6 inches of snow today and had already been shutdown in both directions by the California Highway Patrol as of 5 a.m. this morning. There is also a chance the Antelope Valley will get snow through Friday morning.

CHP officers had already been escorting traffic through the Grapevine since Wednesday morning as heavy snow accumulated.

A winter storm warning signifying an expectation of difficult travel conditions will be in effect for Los Angeles County mountains until 4 a.m. Friday.

“There will be a few lingering showers Friday and it will be cold but showers will begin tapering off by Friday morning.

The snow level will drop to 2,500-3,000 feet tonight, according to the weather service.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” warned an weather service statement. “The hazardous conditions could result in temporary road closures.”

The snow became disruptive earlier than was expected, forecasters said. Shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, Caltrans announced that a section of state Route 2 was closed from state Route 39 to “2.3 miles west of Big Pines” in the Angeles National Forest due to snow.

A winter storm warning will be in effect until 4 p.m. today in the Santa Ana Mountains, and spreading across some parts of Orange County.

“A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” urged the Weather Service.

Also in force in Orange County -- both inland and coastal areas -- is a flash flood watch, which will remain through this evening.

A NWS map shows 1 1/2 to 2 inches of rain is expected along the Orange County coast and 2 to 3 inches were expected inland.

Total snowfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches are expected between 4,000 and 4,500 feet, 6 to 18 inches from 4,500 to 5,500 feet, and from 1 to 3 feet above 5,500 feet, said the weather service. Snowfall at lower elevations below 4,000 feet will be of 1 to 3 inches, late today through Friday.

As of 1 a.m. today, downtown Los Angeles had gotten 1.12 inches of rain. The normal rainfall for this time of year 1.57 inches, Kaplan said. “By the end of the day we could be close to normal,” he said.

The weather this rainy season will not be influenced by an El Nino warm water condition or its cool sister La Nina, Kaplan said. “It's a neutral pattern.”

El Nino is linked to warming sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific, according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, while a La Nina is a period of below-average sea surface temperatures.

Photo: Getty Images

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