Snow arrives in Southern California as winter storm moves in

The coldest storm of the season made its entrance in Southern California early Tuesday, dumping sleet and snow in high mountain areas, prompting some school closures and threatening to deliver ice, rain and hail as it moves across the region.

The winter storm originated in Canada and will pass through Los Angeles and the surrounding areas Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter weather advisory has been issued in the mountains of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with up to 3 inches of snow possible at 2,500 feet and up to 5 inches at higher elevations.

“It’s a very large mass of very cold air, and it’s going to be the reason for our inclement weather today,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Advisories are also in effect for the mountains of San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where even higher snowfall totals of up to 12 inches are possible.

Several school districts in San Diego County already declared a snow day and canceled classes because of road hazards and high winds, according to the San Diego County Office of Education.

In the San Bernardino County mountain areas of Crestline and Lake Arrowhead, news video showed sleet and snow blanketing some roads, prompting plow operations before sunrise with more precipitation on the way.

In addition to winter weather advisories, the weather service issued hard freeze watches and wind advisories in several areas.

The storm could make a mess of travel in the form of icy roads, 45-mph wind gusts and dangerous wind chills in the mountains. Road closures and other traffic problems are possible.

“Anywhere from the Grapevine to Castaic along the I-5 stretch through the mountains is susceptible to this,” Sweet said. “If you don’t have to drive, why bother with hazardous conditions? But if you do, make sure your car is winterized, and make sure you’ve got supplies in your car like lots of water and warm blankets in case you get stranded.”

Sweet said Los Angeles will feel the effects of the winter storm later Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. The high temperature in downtown L.A. on both days is not expected to break 60 degrees.

Showers are likely Tuesday night, along with a slight chance of thunderstorms and small hail, he said. Rainfall amounts are expected to top out at about a quarter-inch in most areas, with a half-inch under heavier showers.

The totals are disappointing during what is typically the heart of the wet season in the state, Sweet said, noting that February appears to be following January’s dry lead.

“We’re relying on a wet March to bolster our rainfall,” he said.

The winter storm will push east as it clears out Wednesday, followed by a gradual warming trend leading into the weekend.

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