Rare Storm Expected to Bring Record-Setting Snowfall to Los Angeles County

A blizzard warning has been issued in the Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino county mountains from 4 a.m.[0] 4 p.m[0] Saturday by the National Weather Service.[1] This is the first warning since 1989, and this storm is expected to be significant and potentially historic.

Heavy snow, strong wind gusts, and near-zero visibility are all expected, as well as up to 5 feet of snow in the mountains above 4,000 feet, with higher elevations seeing up to 8 feet of snow.[2] In addition, a flood watch is in effect in portions of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles until Saturday, with peak rain rates of 0.75 of an inch per hour possible.[3]

Those hoping to travel this weekend should be aware that the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans closed I-5 through the Tejon Pass around 4 a.m.[1] Friday due to snow and low visibility, leaving Highway 101 as the only viable alternative route.[4]

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain urged people to stay home this weekend, saying, “this is not a weekend you’re going to be able to go up and ski — no one is going to be able to get in or out, potentially for days.” He also warned that snow levels could drop to as low as 1,500 feet, roughly the elevation of the Hollywood sign.[0]

Officials have advised those who must travel to keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicles in case of emergency, and winter survival kits are also suggested.

This storm is expected to be a rare event, with Jeff Zarrinnam, chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, saying it was “very rare.”[5] He also noted a similar snowstorm occurred in 1989, when Tom Bradley was mayor and gasoline sold for about $1 a gallon.[5]

What makes this storm most noteworthy are the potential snowfall totals in the mountains around Los Angeles, which could exceed 3 or 4 feet over a 48-hour period, or even reach as much as 8 feet on high mountain peaks.[6] This has led the Mt. Baldy Resort to close its slopes, with resort officials writing in an Instagram post that “some are calling it a potential national record setter.”[5]

Those who must travel should keep an extra flashlight, food, and water with them in their vehicles in case of emergency.

0. “Hail reported in Long Beach; cold, rainy weather expected to continue • Long Beach Post News” Long Beach Post, 23 Feb. 2023, https://lbpost.com/news/hail-rain-cold-weather-storm

1. “Blizzards, thunderstorms, flash flooding: Southern California bracing for a wild weather weekend” Fox Weather , 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxweather.com/extreme-weather/blizzards-thunderstorms-flash-flooding-southern-california-weekend

2. “National Weather Service San Diego issues first-ever blizzard warning” FOX 5 San Diego, 23 Feb. 2023, https://fox5sandiego.com/weather/national-weather-service-san-diego-issues-first-ever-blizzard-warning

3. “Why experts say this could be biggest snow event in decades” Los Angeles Times, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-02-24/astonishing-snow-totals-coming-to-southern-california-why-this-storm-is-so-historic

4. “SoCal blizzard live updates: Palm Springs records record temp, parade rescheduled, rain totals, I-5 closed” Desert Sun, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.desertsun.com/story/weather/2023/02/24/socal-blizzard-live-updates-palm-springs-area-closures-warming-centers/69939864007/

5. “Snowballs at the Hollywood sign: Does it signal the biggest SoCal snow event in decades?” Yahoo Life, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/snowballs-hollywood-sign-does-signal-130010111.html

6. “SoCal Weather Photos: Scenes From the Late-February Winter Storm” NBC Southern California, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.nbclosangeles.com/weather-news/socal-weather-photos-scenes-from-the-late-february-winter-storm/3101750

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