LOS ANGELES (CNS / FOX 11) - A Pacific storm out of the Gulf of Alaska will bring Southern California cold and unsettled weather on Friday, including rain and furious winds as unusually high surf resulting from a large northwest swell slams the coastline, causing beach erosion and creating the risk of drowning, National Weather Service forecasters said.
While rainfall amounts are expected to vary throughout the day, "there is the potential for brief heavy downpours and small hail with any thunderstorm,'' according to the National Weather Service.
Around midday, rain fell on Beverly Hills, where there were reports of some hail, as a storm cell pushed its way through the Mid City area toward downtown.
As cold air streams into the region, the snow level will drop to between 4,000 and 5,000 feet, forecasters said. It could be down to 4,000 feet by Friday night, which would result in a dusting of snow on Interstate 5 near The Grapevine in the San Gabriel Mountains, they said.
Also expected to affect I-5 near The Grapevine are strong northwest-to-north winds tonight into Saturday, gusting at up to 60 miles per hour, they said.
"Anyone planning travel into the mountains should be prepared for winter weather driving conditions,'' a statement said, forecasting gusty west-to-northwest winds.
"Winds this strong may down trees and power lines and cause property damage,'' a statement said warning that the wind could make driving difficult, not just on the I-5 but also on Pearblossom (13) highway. "When driving, use extra caution. Be prepared for sudden gusty crosswinds.''
A wind advisory will be in force from 10 this morning until 10 tonight in the Antelope Valley, from noon to 8 p.m. along the coast and in metropolitan Los Angeles, and from 6 p.m. today until 6 a.m. Saturday in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.
Wind gusts of between 35 and 45 mph will develop today in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys and the Santa Monica Mountains, an NWS statement said. Coastal areas this afternoon will also experience 35-mph winds, it said. Off the coast, gale-force winds are likely, along with gusts of 40 knots per hour.
In the San Gabriel mountains, a wind advisory will be in force from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. today, followed by a more serious high wind watch through Saturday morning.
Along the coast, forecasters are expecting high surf and strong rip currents because of "a very large northwest swell,'' an NWS statement said.
Surf of 16-22 feet with local sets to 25 feet are expected along the Central Coast today, diminishing Saturday night. Further south, in Los Angeles County, a coastal flood advisory will be in effect until noon today, followed by a more serious high surf advisory, which will be in effect until 5 Sunday afternoon.
Surf in Los Angeles County will build to between 9 and 12 feet Friday, with local sets of 15 feet, forecasters said, adding that there will be some coastal flooding and beach erosion, especially near high tide, which hit at 8:19 Friday morning.
"Areas especially at risk include Venice Beach and Malibu'' in Los Angeles County, and Oxnard Shores and Port Hueneme in Ventura County, a statement said, urging people to avoid low-lying areas.
"Large waves and strong rip currents will increase the risk of ocean drowning,'' it said.
Temperatures across the area are expected to in the 60s Friday. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a cold weather alert for the Antelope Valley that will last through Monday. A similar alert will take effect Friday for Los Angeles County mountains and also remain in place until Monday, with wind-chill temperatures expected to drop below 32 degrees.
Seniors and other people in need of a place to keep warm can visit a winter shelter. A list of locations is available online through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority website at www.lahsa.org/winter_shelter_program, or by calling the 211 information line.
Health officials urged residents to protect themselves and others from the cold by dressing warm, offering help to neighbors who lack adequate heat, checking on senior citizens or others who are ill and bringing pets inside overnight.
The NWS forecast rain Friday and highs of 50 on Mount Wilson; 54 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 59 in Saugus; 62 in Avalon and Mission Viejo; 63 in Pasadena, Burbank, Laguna Beach, San Clemente and Irvine; 64 at LAX, in Long Beach, San Gabriel, Woodland Hills, Yorba Linda and Newport Beach; 65 in downtown L.A.; and 66 in Fullerton and Anaheim. Saturday's temperatures were expected to be the same or marginally higher but under sunny skies this time.
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