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Winter storms likely to bring Los Angeles its longest cold snap in almost 20 years


Los Angeles is on track to experience its longest cold snap in nearly 20 years this week as another winter storm lashes the region with heavy and low-lying snow, strong winds and significant rainfall.

If forecasts are correct, Wednesday will mark the eighth day in a row that downtown LA hasn’t reached 60 degrees — a cold streak not seen in the city since 2005, according to the National Weather Service’s daily forecast talk.

Los Angeles’ normal average for the month is 69 degrees, making this recent streak well “below normal,” said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.

“It’s been pretty cold,” Kittell said.

While this streak might rival a similar eight-day cold snap in January 2005, it pales in comparison to the longest on record: 20 consecutive days below 60 degrees in 1949, according to Kittell.

A slight warming expected to begin Thursday into the weekend should break the series well off that record, Kittell said.

The cold temperatures, combined with the moisture from a low-pressure system hovering over the state, could once again bring low-altitude snowfall to Southern California after last week’s rare event brought fresh powder to areas even lower than 1,500 feet.

Foothill communities including La Crescenta-Montrose, La Cañada Flintridge and Santa Clarita, as well as in the Antelope Valley, could see some snow Wednesday morning, Kittell said.

“The amount of moisture is less, so we don’t expect a total repeat of what we had last week,” he said. “But they could see more snow.”

Snow levels Tuesday afternoon are expected to rise to between 3,500 and 4,000 feet in elevation, but fall quickly to as low as 1,500 feet early Wednesday. At the highest elevations, Wednesday could drop as much as 2 feet from this latest storm atop several feet on the ground of the final system — which officials and residents are still working to recover from.

A winter storm warning is in effect Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday for the mountains of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, with reduced visibility due to snow likely to make travel “difficult to impossible,” the warning said. The weather is likely to cause disruptions along the Grapevine, the higher sections of Interstate 5 and the 14 Freeway entering the Antelope Valley, Kittell said.

“The roads will be the main concern,” he said.

“The weight of the recent snow combined with high winds could topple trees and power lines,” the warning said. San Bernardino County has declared a state of emergency due to the weather.

Rainfall at lower elevations is also expected to be notable, but manageable, Kittell said. The coasts and valleys could see up to 1½ inches of rain through Wednesday from this storm system, while the foothills and mountains could see up to 3 inches.

Peak rain and snowfall are expected late Tuesday through Wednesday morning, Kittell said.

The latest storm continued to wreak havoc across the region — despite being weaker than the previous system — with reports of fallen treespockets of blackouts and small mudslides early Tuesday.

LA firefighters responded to a dangerous debris flow on Muholland Drive, closing the road between Deep Canyon Drive and Coldwater Canyon Avenue. The mud and debris damaged at least one home and one power pole, but no one was injured, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Residents of some nearby homes were “quietly evacuated as a precaution,” the department said.

Weather officials are forecasting a “warming and drying trend” Thursday through Saturday, though more wet weather could return sometime next week.

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