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Cold Storm System to Bring Rain, Snow to SoCal

Widespread rain and showers were reported Thursday across Southern California, largely concentrated on Los Angeles County, bringing predictions of gusty winds and snow in area mountains.

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Rain fell in Pasadena on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, as a cold storm system moved in Southern California. (Credit: KTLA)

There was a slight chance of thunderstorms that could bring small hail and brief, heavy downpours, according to the National Weather Service, which warned of hazardous driving conditions due to slick or icy roadways and wind gusts.

The cold storm system arrived in the region from the Gulf of Alaska and brought a high-temperature drop of some 30 degrees after several days of unseasonable heat in Southern California.

A cold weather alert was issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for county mountains and the Antelope Valley, with wind chill temperatures expected to drop below 32 degrees in those areas on Thursday and Friday.

At the same time, on Wednesday the National Weather Service was noting that 2013 could go down as the driest calendar year on record for downtown Los Angeles since records were first kept in 1877. That record will be made if fewer than .58 inches of precipitation fall before the end of the month, according to the weather service.

Meanwhile, in the mountains, Thursday’s storm was expected to bring 2 to 5 inches of snow to mountains in Los Angeles County, dropping snow levels to 3,500 to 4,500 feet.

Lower elevation snow was possible in the foothills of the Antelope Valley and in the Tejon Pass, where the 5 Freeway links the Los Angeles Basin to the Central Valley. California Highway Patrol officials warned drivers to be prepared with water, food and warm clothes in case they get stuck.

The freeway will be shut down in the Grapevine area if snow sticks to the roadway and it becomes icy despite Caltrans trucks’ attempt to plow the pavement, according to CHP Sgt. Zachary Emmons.

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A KTLA viewer sent in this photo of the first dusting of snow in the mountain community of Forest Falls on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Credit: Sandy Wood)

In the Inland Empire, several inches of snow were possible with a snow level of about 4,000 feet, the weather service stated. Strong winds were predicted for inland mountains and deserts.

Mountain High in Wrightwood was expecting 3 to 5 inches of snow, and runs were set to be open until 10 p.m., according to the resort’s website.

At Snow Summit and Bear Mountain in the San Bernardino Mountains in Big Bear, “a bit of natural snowfall” was predicted, according to the resorts’ website. The twin resorts were expected to be open till 4 p.m. Thursday.

On the coast, gale-force winds were expected to blow across waters through early Friday, prompting the weather service to issue a small-craft advisory.