Timeline: When will worst of storms hit SoCal with snow, rain, high surf?

A light snow falls along Painted Cave Road in the mountains above Santa Barbara on Thursday.(Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire)


So just how unusual will the winter storms this week be across Southern California?

Over the coming days, forecasters predict periods of intense rain, snow falling at low elevations, dangerous conditions along the coast and blizzard conditions in some local mountains.

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Meteorologist David Sweet, at the Oxnard National Weather Service office, said the storm is drawing comparisons to the 1989 storm that brought rare snowfall to Southern California, from Palm Springs to the hillsides of Malibu. That was also the last known time a blizzard warning was issued in the L.A. region.

Wednesday saw scattered hail, rain and snow along with heavy wind gusts and high surf.

Here is the projected timing for the storms, based on current forecasts.


  • Thursday could be a bit of a calm before the storm’s second, stronger wave.
  • Light rain could begin across the region, with 2 to 5 inches forecast in coastal and valley areas through Sunday. Mostly scattered showers on Thursday.
  • Lighter snowfall is expected in the region’s highest mountains, where winter storm warnings remain in effect. In the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills, up to 15 inches could fall by Thursday night, forecasters said, and up to 3 feet possible for Riverside and San Bernardino counties’ highest peaks.


  • The most intense precipitation hits the region, continuing through Saturday.
  • Snow levels drop. Some key mountain passes could face closure due to snow, and mountain roads could become impassible. The National Weather Service predicts “historic amounts of snow” continuing to accumulate through Saturday.
  • Blizzard warning for Friday and Saturday, with officials urging people to avoid mountain travel. The blizzard conditions include heavy snow with wind gusts up to 75 mph and “near zero visibility,” forecasters said.
  • Rainfall rates expected to pick up in the afternoon, dumping up to an inch of rain per hour, with the possibility for flooding in some urban areas or burn scars. Mountains and foothills could see up to 10 inches of rain through Sunday.


  • Rains continue, blizzard in mountains.
  • By Saturday night, snow accumulations expected to be up to a foot for mountain regions at or above 2,000 feet in elevation, including most major mountain passes, making travel difficult.
  • At elevations above 4,000 feet, snow totals are expected between 2 and 5 feet, with isolated amounts up to 7 or 8 feet in higher elevations.
  • “The San Gabriels are definitely going to be getting the highest snow amounts, especially the eastern portion,” said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. She said specific totals for certain peaks, like Mt. Baldy, are hard to estimate days out and given the high winds forecast, but she expected up to 96 inches there, if not more. “It’s going to be a ton of snow, there’s going to be a lot of wind.”


  • Rains tapering off by the morning. A possible reprieve from weather until more rain expected Monday.

Source: LA Times


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