Strong early season storm to bring rain, snow and strong winds

The National Weather Service is reporting rain, snow and strong winds for the following areas: Orange County coastal areas-San Diego County coastal areas-San Bernardino and Riverside County valleys-the Inland Empire-San Diego County valleys-San Bernardino County mountains-Riverside County mountains-Santa Ana mountains and foothills-San Diego County mountains-Apple and Lucerne valleys-Coachella Valley-San Diego County deserts.

A strong early season storm originating from the Gulf of Alaska will move through California today and Thursday, bringing rain and snow to the higher mountains and strong winds to mountains and deserts Wednesday and Thursday.

Showers will begin in Orange and San Bernardino counties this morning, becoming more widespread and moving southeast during the afternoon and evening. Rain will taper off overnight with scattered showers lingering through the day Thursday. There is also a slight chance of thunderstorms on Thursday, mainly in San Bernardino county.

Rainfall amounts expected include one to two inches in the mountains with isolated amounts up to three inches, one half to one inch west of the mountains, and less than a one-third inch in the deserts.

Snow will accumulate only at the highest elevations where up to six inches of snowfall are expected. Below about 7500 feet only an inch or two of snow is expected. Most of the mountains will get rain before the snow level drops and the moisture decreases Wednesday night. Those who are visiting the high back country should be informed on this early season winter storm and are encouraged to take extra precaution. This weather could be deadly for unprepared campers or hikers, especially in the San Gorgonian and mt San Jacinto wilderness, although the snow level will mostly stay above mountain highways. Travel may become difficult. Be prepared for slippery roads and low visibility in fog. Use caution while driving.

Winds will increase during the day Wednesday in the mountains and deserts where winds gusting 45 to 50 mph are

expected. Gusts up to 55 mph are possible in the favored canyons and passes. This will make travel hazardous in the mountains and deserts, especially along interstates 15…10…and 8. Blowing dust may reduce visibility at times in the deserts. Gusty winds are also expected over the coastal waters. A wind advisory is in effect for the mountains and deserts Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. A small craft advisory is in effect for the coastal waters Wednesday afternoon through Thursday.

Unseasonably cool weather will continue through Thursday and a few low maximum temperature records may be broken.

Fair and warmer weather is expected to return Friday.

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