A strong winter storm is expected to drench Riverside County today, bringing with it powerful winds and mountain snow, forecasters said.
"This is going to be different from the weak systems we've been having,'' National Weather Service forecaster Noel Isla said. "This is a good one.''
Storms are usually weakening by the time they get here, but this one is intensifying, Isla said. He also said that it's going to make a "direct hit'' on Southern California, a region that generally gets only the tail end of storm systems.
Winds will be strongest this afternoon, according to the Weather Service, which forecasts gusts of up to 40 miles per hour in the Coachella Valley and 45 miles per hour in the Inland Empire.
The NWS scheduled a high wind warning from 3 p.m. to midnight in the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley.
In the mountains, the National Weather Service is estimating 55 mile per hour winds and has issued a flash flood warning from noon to this evening.
A winter storm watch will be in effect until 3 p.m. Tuesday. The snow level will range between 5,500 and 6,000 feet, with 8 to 10 inches of snow expected, according to the Weather Service.
Snow is already falling at higher elevations near the Grapevine and schools in both the Rim of the World Unified School District and the Bear Valley Unified School Distrcit have been closed Monday due to weather conditions.
Station Fire Area
Flash flooding and debris flows are possible for the recent burn areas of Los Angeles county this afternoon and evening. Rain is expected to fall between one quarter and one half inch per hour, but could reach three quarters of an in per hour over the south-facing slopese of the San Gabriel range.
These rain rates could be enough to create flash flooding over recent burn areas, potentially causing mudslides. The Station and Morris burn areas are of particular concern and authorities are making preparations in case evacuations are needed.
The LAFD is coordinating the distribution of sandbags and sand in certain high-risk areas.
Currently big Tujunga Canyon and upper big Tujunga Road are closed. A section of the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway could also be closed.
The California Highway Patrol warns that commutes today will be tough. This morning the CHP responded to three times as many collisions as last week, when roads were dry.
Between 5 and 6 am alone there were 24 accidents. Most of these collisions occur on on and off ramps because people are driving too fast on slick roads. No fatalities have yet been reported.
Temperatures today were expected to peak in the mid-30s to mid-40s in the mountains, low to mid-50s in the Inland Empire and the high 50s to low 60s in the Coachella Valley.
The NWS forecasts that the showers will taper off late tonight and the storm will move out of the area Tuesday. However, experts are predicting more rain on Tursday and early Friday as well as a possible third storm this weekend.