Southern California mountains could see up to 2 feet of snow in the higher elevations starting Thursday as a persistent winter storm marches through the region, according to weather forecasts.
A winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. for the San Bernardino Mountains above 7,000 feet of elevation, according to the National Weather Service. The area is expected to receive 6 to 10 inches of snow above 7,500 feet and 1 to 2 feet of snow above 8,500 feet.
Snow levels will drop to around 6,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains after 3 p.m. and into the evening, according to weather forecasts, and the area could see 2 to 4 inches of rain above 6,500 feet.
A light snow peppered Big Bear City Airport on Thursday morning, according to the weather station monitors operated by the National Weather Service.
Riverside County mountains can expect 2 to 4 inches of snowfall above the 8,000 feet elevation and 6 to 10 inches on the highest peaks.
The amount of snowfall forecast is in line with previous winter storms that arrive on an atmospheric river, a west-to-east-flowing jet stream that can increase rainfall totals, said meteorologist Casey Oswant with the National Weather Service in San Diego.
Wind gusts are forecast to reach up to 55 mph in the mountain areas.
“It’s going to get pretty windy,” Oswant said. “Once you get into the mountains, if you’re at those higher elevations, it’s going to be hazardous conditions. People should try to refrain from being out and about.”
A wind advisory is in effect through 6 p.m. for the San Bernardino Mountains, Apple and Lucerne valleys, including Crestline, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Running Springs, Wrightwood, Victorville and Hesperia.
South winds are forecast to reach 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Officials warn residents to be aware of downed power lines and tree limbs.
Large swaths of the Inland Empire, San Bernardino, Riverside and Santa Ana mountains, along with the foothills in Orange County, are under flood watch through 4 p.m. Thursday.