Brunt of heavy rain, snow storm to hit SoCal Christmas night

People planning to travel in Southern California this Christmas may want to arrive at their destination before a winter storm hits with heavy rain, snow and wind, forecasters said.

Scattered light rain and showers could fall in the Los Angeles Basin late in the afternoon, but the brunt of the storm is likely to hit between 9 p.m. and midnight, National Weather Service Meteorologist Dave Bruno said.

"It will almost be a White Christmas for some people,'' Bruno said. A Winter Storm Watch will be upgraded later today to a Winter Storm Warning that could last through Thursday afternoon or evening, he said. 

Snow levels could drop to 3,500 feet and accumulations could be 1-2 feet at resorts and 6-12 inches around the I-5 Grapevine, with at least 1-2 inches on the road itself, Bruno said. The roadway could be shut down at times and motorists should be cautious and ``check road conditions before venturing out,'' he said.

The low snow level also means Highway 14 and the Antelope Valley could have snow accumulation, Bruno said. Even Lancaster and Palmdale could get snow.

The steady and heavy rain in the lower elevations could last through the night and start letting up shortly after daybreak Thursday, Bruno said. 

There could be 1-3 inches of rain in most areas during a period of about six hours, he said. The San Gabriel Mountains and foothills could get up to 4 inches of rain.

A Wind Advisory will be issued Wednesday afternoon because strong east-southeast winds are expected with the storm, he said. Winds of 15-25 mph are forecast in the L.A. Basin with gusts of up to 40 mph, which could also make travel treacherous.

The winds raise the possibility of downed trees due to soil already saturated by previous storms and downed power lines, Bruno said.

L.A.-area temperatures will be in the mid to upper-50s today and in the 50s Thursday with temperatures in the Antelope Valley falling to the mid-upper 30s, he said.

There is a slight possibility of another system passing through Monday, Bruno said.

Los Angeles rainfall totals are ahead of the seasonal average, with 5.2 inches having fallen since the season began Oct. 1. Normal is
3.3 inches.

FOX 11’s Gigi Garciette contributed to this report