Forecasters are predicting the first storm of the new year this weekend with wind, rain and possibly snow across the region.
According to the National Weather Service, rain is predicted for Saturday afternoon. High temperatures will be near 62 and wind gusts could reach 15 mph. Thunderstorms are possible through Saturday night with a 50 percent chance showers persist into Sunday. The weather is expected to clear Sunday with a high near 62 and light, variable winds. By Monday, temperatures are predicted to be bear 64 with clear skies.
“There is a high likelihood that a High Surf Advisory will be needed across the Central Coast from Saturday morning through Monday morning, and moderate confidence a high surf advisory may be needed for the Los Angeles and Ventura County beaches during that time,” said a NWS alert. “Breakers of up to 10 to 14 feet with max sets to 17 feet will be possible for the Central Coast, with surf of 7 feet or higher possible for west-facing beaches of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.”
The alert said dangerous rip currents are also possible.
Caltrans said it’s preparing local highways for rain and the possibility of snow below 4,000 feet in nearby mountain areas.
“The mountain and pass regions will be preparing the highway in advance of the storm with deicing agents, said an Caltrans in a statement. “Snow plows and other equipment are ready, and staff will be working 24/7 during the storm event. Motorists are advised to avoid travel during storm events and to slow down! Chains will be required in mountain areas. Remember to bring chains even if it not snowing due to sudden weather changes.”
Officials said mud and debris flows are also possible during heavy rain, particularly in recent burn areas.
“For post-fire storm activity, all Malibu residents are urged to be prepared for potential flooding, mudslides, debris flows, power outages and evacuations, with dangerous road conditions including water, rocks and debris in roads, and malfunctioning traffic signals,” said a storm warning from the City of Malibu. “Mud and debris flows can have a devastating impact, including loss of life and home. Residents are urged to prepare for possible evacuations. Evacuation orders should not be taken lightly and are ordered because there is a threat to life and property. Due to the potential for outages in parts of Malibu, it is possible that residents may not receive emergency alerts. Please monitor storm conditions on local news radio, and if possible, the National Weather Service at https://www.weather.gov/lox. If heavy rain persists, do not wait for evacuation orders – leave early.”
Malibu officials said locals should not attempt to remove burn debris before the rain due to the presence of hazardous materials that can threaten public health.
“No debris removal from burned properties is allowed until inspections by state and county health officials have been completed and properties have been approved for debris removal. Burn debris must be properly inspected and disposed of,” said the warning.
Significant rain is expected in January. According to NWS, January is the second wettest month of the year with an average rainfall of about 3.12 inches (behind February). The average January high temperatures is 68 and the average low is 48. The month has a mean of seven rain days and 14 with clear skies. The warmest January on record was in a high of 95 in 1971 and the coldest was in 1949 with a low of 28.
The weekend storm follows a week of flipped expectations throughout the Western United States, with snow falling on cactuses in the Arizona desert and Anchorage seeing balmy weather — at least by Alaska standards.
In Phoenix, the overnight low was 30 degrees for the first time in five years last week. The Tucson area saw as much as 6 inches of snow.
“It was pretty magical,” said Jessica Howard, a resident of the Tucson suburb of Vail who took her 8- and 5-year-old children to play in the snow. “My social media feeds are like 100 percent snow pictures right now.”
Snow dusted cactuses and mountains in southern Arizona and covered the Grand Canyon in the north.
Elsewhere, the National Weather Service issued a freeze warning in the Nevada county where Las Vegas is located. Snow fell and stuck Tuesday on a desert highway over a mountain just 20 minutes outside Sin City.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, saw heavy snowfall and icy roads that caused many government agencies and schools to close.
The cold weather and snow is “quite uncommon” for the area, said Glenn Lader, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tucson. Nogales, an Arizona city on the Mexico border, had about 6 inches of snow, he said.
Meanwhile, some parts of Alaska rang in the new year with relatively balmy weather for the region that helped melt snow in Anchorage. A change in the jet stream brought warmer air from the south, taking the temperature to 42 degrees on New Year’s Day.
It was a nice respite from a winter mix that left 32.6 inches of snow on the ground in Anchorage in December, with most of it falling during the last half of the month.
Colder weather was in the forecast, with high temperatures dropping to the teens or even single digits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Weather Forecast and Advisories
National Weather Service LA/Oxnard: https://www.weather.gov/lox.
Interactive Map of Potential Debris Flow Hazard Areas
For current road closures, visit https://dpw.lacounty.gov/roadclosures/.