It’s not every single day that snow closes roads close to southern California’s metropolis of Santa Barbara or that flakes fall on the mountain the place the long-lasting Hollywood signal sits. These scenes come courtesy of a strong winter storm that’s bringing uncommon blizzard situations to the southern components of the state.
The Nationwide Climate Service’s (NWS’s) workplace in San Diego issued a blizzard warning for the primary time in its historical past, and the company’s Los Angeles workplace did so for the primary time since 1989.
The huge storm already ushered in frigid situations throughout the Pacific Northwest and gave Portland its second snowiest day on report, with 10.8 inches falling on Wednesday. Because the storm has moved southward, snow, wind and colder-than-normal situations have unfold throughout northern California. Downtown San Francisco noticed a low temperature of 39 levels Fahrenheit for the primary time since 2017, in keeping with NWS’s San Francisco Bay Space workplace, and snow prompted highway closures within the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Jose.
Although winter storms will not be uncommon in California and sometimes deliver snow to mountain peaks within the state’s south, snowfalls there often measure in inches. However this storm is predicted to deliver toes of heavy snow, says Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist at NWS’s Los Angeles workplace. “Snowfall quantities over our mountains could possibly be unprecedented,” stated meteorologist Alex Turdy of NWS’s San Diego workplace in a web-based briefing.
A number of elements are coming collectively to make this such a notable occasion. First, the storm is knocking down air from Canada—so it is rather chilly. This unusually frigid air is why snow fell at surprisingly low ranges within the hills round Los Angeles on Thursday, right down to round 1,500 toes in elevation, Kittell says. Snows on this area sometimes fall above 5,000 toes. The unusually low ranges of snow on this storm have been the explanation that State Route 154, which runs inland from Santa Barbara, needed to shut on Thursday, one thing Kittell says he can’t recall occurring earlier than. (It’s unclear if it was snow or one other, intently associated kind of frozen precipitation known as graupel that fell on Mount Lee, the place the Hollywood signal sits—however both could be very uncommon.)
The storm will even be tapping into what meteorologists name an atmospheric river: currents of very moist air pushed by sturdy winds. “That’s solely going to extend the rain and the snow quantities,” says Samantha Connolly, a meteorologist at NWS’s workplace in San Diego.
Meaning mountain areas could have loads of snow for the storm’s sturdy winds to blow round, “creating just about whiteout situations” in these areas, Connolly says. “It will likely be practically not possible to journey within the mountains.” These are the situations that mark a blizzard, which NWS classifies as a storm with giant quantities of snow, winds higher than 35 per hour and visibility of lower than 1 / 4 of a mile.
Along with the snow, giant quantities of rain might fall shortly at low elevations alongside the coast and in valleys—and will pose flooding dangers as a result of the bottom typically can’t absorb water quick sufficient. This might notably be a difficulty in city areas, the place giant expanses of paved surfaces imply there’s much less uncovered floor to soak up rain.
On a extra optimistic notice, the snowfall will seemingly assist relieve California’s years-long drought. A lot of the state’s water provide comes from its snowpack, which tops up rivers, reservoirs and groundwater because it melts within the spring. “Any snow we are able to get, any rain we are able to get,” will ease the drought, Connolly says.
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