Heavy snow, wind, rain to start the week in southern California

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

It’s could be a rough start to the work week for truckers who have to drive through southern California. A strong storm will slam coastal areas and adjacent valleys with potentially flooding rains, while the inland mountains get covered with huge amounts of snow. Powerful winds will make travel even worse in some areas. The storm will begin tonight (Sunday), lasting through Tuesday.


Skiers and resort owners will delight in knowing that plenty of fresh snow will fall in the mountains north and east of Los Angeles and San Diego, but most truck drivers will not likely share in their joy.

The heaviest snow is forecast for the eastern Sierra slopes and White Mountains of Inyo County, California, as well as the Sheep Range and Spring Mountains in western Nevada. Up to three feet of snow could pile up Monday through Tuesday in elevations above 7,000 feet, with six to 12 inches between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. Driving will be risky on state routes 168 and 190 in California, as well as US-395, and state routes 156, 157, and 158 in Nevada.

The mountains of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California will get snow beginning Monday afternoon. Totals could approach eight to 12 inches above 7,000 feet, with pockets of 24 inches. Look for lighter accumulations of one to eight inches from 5,000 to 7,000 feet. Cities in the target areas include Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Idyllwild, Lake Arrowhead, Pine Cove, Running Springs, and Wrightwood. Also, it will become very windy with gusts from the south reaching 40 mph by Monday night, and areas of dense fog will reduce visibility at times affecting travel on state routes 18 and 38.

Other areas in southern California that are expected to see up to 12 inches of snow above 5,000 feet, along with dangerous wind gusts of 60 to 75 mph, are the mountains of Kern County, including Cuddy Valley, Frazier Park, and Lake Isabella; the mountains of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, including San Marcos Pass, San Rafael Wilderness Area, Dick Smith Wilderness Area, Lockwood Valley, and Mount Pinos; Los Angeles County mountains including the cities of Acton, Mount Wilson, and Sandberg.

Deadheading and hauling light loads will be risky to impossible in extremely windy areas, and white-out conditions will be likely due to blowing snow. Power outages are also possible due to downed electrical lines.

Winter Storm Watches and Warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) for the areas previously mentioned, and more may be posted as additional storms may develop during the second half of the week. Use this interactive map for updated winter weather alerts from the NWS. Drivers: please stay safe out there, especially if you can’t find alternate routes to avoid the heavy snow and wind. Check chain laws here for the latest updates on winter driving.


The same storm dropping high elevation snow will douse coastal areas of southern California and nearby valleys. Totals of one to two inches are expected Monday through Tuesday from San Diego to Los Angeles, with isolated areas of three inches. Rainfall rates could be as high as one and a half inches per hour in the Los Angeles area, along with crosswinds of 50 to 60 mph. Flooding, rock slides, mudslides, and debris flows are all possible in both metro areas, as well as downed trees and power lines which could potentially cut off some routes.

Look for weather updates through the week on the FreightWaves web site.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.