Blizzard Warnings are in effect for portions of central and southern California now as a potent storm system slams into the western U.S. bringing heavy rain, snow, and strong, potentially damaging winds. Winter Storm Warnings are up elsewhere across the higher terrain of California, Nevada and Arizona while High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories are up for much of the region too. Flood Watches are also in effect due to the flood threat at lower elevations. The National Weather Service offices in both Los Angeles and San Diego are issuing Blizzard Warnings for their forecast area; the one issued for the mountains outside of San Diego is the first time a Blizzard Warning has ever been issued by that office.
The San Diego National Weather Service office says travel will become dangerous if not impossible for the San Bernardino County Mountains due to the extremely heavy snow and extremely high winds expected there. For the areas covered by the Winter Storm Warning, heavy snow with additional snow accumulations of 2-4″ below 4,000 feet and 8-16″ above 5,000 feet are expected along with sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 45 mph. For the Blizzard Warning zone, blizzard conditions are expected. Total snow accumulations above 5,000 feet of 3-5 feet are expected while 1-3 feet is expected between 4,000 and 5,000 feet elevations. In the Blizzard Warning zone, sustained winds of 25-35 mph are expected with gusts of 50-60 mph. Visibility with heavy snow, fog, and blowing and drifting snow of less than 1/4 mile is expected.
Northern California is also expecting wintry conditions, with snow levels extremely low around the San Francisco Bay area. Snow levels may dip to or just below 1,000 feet there, bringing snow to areas that are usually to mild to see any.
The National Weather Service warns that if people must travel through Winter Storm or Blizzard Warning zones, they should keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in their vehicle in case of an emergency. “Travel should be restricted to emergencies only,” the National Weather Service warns. “If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.”
Heavy rain can also create flooding problems at lower elevations. The National Weather Service cautions: “Turn around, don’t drown; never drive through flood waters.”
While this major winter storm is set to bring copious amounts of snow to many of California’s mountain ranges, including southwest Oregon & southern Nevada and blizzard conditions to the southern Sierra Nevada & the Transverse Ranges on Friday, periods of snow, gusty winds, & an icy wintry mix will continue to cause treacherous travel conditions from the Upper Midwest to the northern Northeast today.