Southern California’s first major winter storm brought thunder and lightning, and doused much of the region with brief, heavy downpours from early morning through the afternoon Monday, but sunny skies and warmer weather were expected later in the week, forecasters said.
As of around 4 p.m. on Monday, many areas received about an inch to an inch-and-a-half of rain, according to the National Weather Service. And frigid temperatures brought widespread hail, with reports of ice coming down in the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire. Parts of Rowland Heights, Walnut, Diamond Bar and Temecula all saw hail.
Hail in some neighborhoods in Downey, La Mirada and Whittier left some cars, roofs and streets covered in white.
Hail in Whittier. pic.twitter.com/ewesuBrRcy
— Keith Durflinger (@PhotoDurf) December 28, 2020
Los Angeles residents saw some downed trees, light flooding, and a few reports of cars spinning out on slick roads, but the area avoided significant damage. Still, firefighters were busy.
A man and a woman stranded on an island in the middle of the L.A. River, swollen with rain, in Atwater Village near Glendale Boulevard required a helicopter to lift them to safety when they became trapped, said Brian Humphrey, an LAFD spokesman. Around 70 firefighters were part of the rescue effort, he said.
Firefighters went to the location after someone saw the pair stuck in the river at around 2 a.m.
“In the middle of the night, a bystander saw these people in peril,” Humphrey said. “They were very fortunate.”
Weather service forecasters in both L.A. and San Diego said snow fell most heavily in mountain areas at around 4,500 feet. In Julian, an unincorporated community in San Diego County, the Department of Public Works brought out snowplows to clear roads.
Our crews have been out since 2:30 a.m. plowing snow on Mt. Laguna and near Julian.
Make sure you check local road conditions for closures and monitor our Twitter for chain requirements if you’re heading out that way.
Drive safe! pic.twitter.com/GCeOfzW71H
— San Diego County DPW (@sdcountydpw) December 28, 2020
Caltrans officials said they were on alert for snow in Gorman along the Grapevine, but the area saw mostly rain. Officials said they were watching for any debris flows in areas where fire had passed recently, like in the burn scars of the Bobcat and Lake fires.
The winter weather should slacken starting Tuesday night. Temperatures should warm up into the low 60s for most areas.
“Sunny skies on Tuesday along with some offshore winds,” wrote Andrew Rorke, an NWS meteorologist in Oxnard. “Continued warming on Wednesday under fair skies.”
Big waves also are likely for beaches in L.A. and Orange counties — the NWS issued a high surf advisory that will last through 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Surf was expected to be 5-to-8 feet at west-facing beaches, building to up to 10 feet at select spots by the afternoon and through the night. Forecasters warned of an increased risk for people who venture into the water.
“Dangerous rip currents are expected, and these currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea,” the NWS wrote. “Waves can wash people off beaches and rocks, and capsize small boats nearshore.”
Pono Barnes, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguards, said the rains flooding into storm drains meant outflows of accumulated debris and detritus. That means the water quality over the next few days will be bad.
“Storm drains were flowing, I would expect the bacteria levels are at a considerable level right now,” Barnes said. “We recommend you stay out of the water.”
The cold winds from the storm will give way for moderate Santa Ana winds starting Thursday, according to the NWS, which will really warm things up and make for a relatively balmy weekend.
Here are Monday’s rain totals from across the region as of 4 p.m.:
Fullerton: 1.42 inchesLong Beach: 1.02 inchesDowntown Los Angeles: 1.58 inchesHuntington Beach: 1.01 inchesNorthridge: 1.73 inchesOntario: 1.10 inchesHawthorne: 1.34 inchesChino: 1.20 inchesRiverside: 0.75 inch
Source: Orange County Register