Gusty winds bring winter-like rain, snow to southland

Fierce winds lashed away at parts of the Southland today ahead of the arrival of a new storm expected to bring the region some rain, snow at low elevations, and more windy weather.

A high wind warning issued when the wind is gusting or expected to gust at 58 miles per hour was scheduled to be in force until noon today in the San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley, where churning sand and dust could reduce visibility to zero for motorists, National Weather Service forecasters said.

West-to-northwest winds of 25 to 45 miles per hour with 60-mph gusts are expected this morning, especially in the western Antelope Valley and over the Interstate 5 corridor in the mountains, they said.

"Winds this strong will be capable of downing trees and power lines. These strong winds can make driving very dangerous, especially for high-profile vehicles," an NWS statement said.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, a wind advisory, which is less serious than a high wind warning, will be in force until noon. Forecasters say the Santa Clarita Valley is being battered by winds of 25-35 mph, gusting to 45 mph.

Along the Southland coast, a coastal flood advisory will be in force until 10 a.m. Friday, and a beach hazard statement will be in effect through that afternoon.

"Elevated surf and strong rip currents will increase the risk of ocean drowning," an NWS statement said, warning also of minor flooding, especially during morning high tide.

On Thursday, an area of low pressure out of the gulf of Alaska is expected to drop into Southern California, bringing light showers, snow at low elevations, and northerly winds that may gust at more than 50 mph, an NWS
statement said. On Friday night and Saturday, moderate to strong Santa Ana winds are possible as high pressure builds into the Great Basin, they said.

The snow level is expected to start off at between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, dropping to 3,000 feet by Friday morning. Snow accumulation will be minimal. "The combination of gusty winds, wet roads, and holiday traffic will
lead to hazardous driving conditions Thursday night into Friday," the statement said, warning that snow and blowing snow could cause poor visibility in the mountains near The Grapevine.

The weather service also warned that there could be several hours of sub-freezing temperatures in some valley areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties Saturday and Sunday. Especially vulnerable in such conditions are
children, the elderly and the homeless.

The NWS forecast partly cloudy skies today and highs of 59 in Lancaster; 50 in Palmdale; 56 on Mount Wilson; 59 in Saugus; 61 in Avalon; 62 in Burbank; 63 in Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Long Beach and at LAX; 64 in Irvine and Woodland Hills; 65 in Newport Beach and San Gabriel; 66 in downtown L.A., Yorba Linda, Pasadena; and 67 in Fullerton and Anaheim.

Thursday's temperatures are forecast to be a few degrees lower in many communities, still under partly cloudy skies.

Another small temperature dip is expected Friday, also under cloudy skies. Saturday's temperatures will be about the same, but in full sunshine this time.

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