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Winter storm brings significant snow to Riverside County's mountains

Saturday, December 7th, 2013
Issue 49, Volume 17.
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RIVERSIDE - A winter storm brought significant snow to Riverside County's mountains starting today, briefly closed freeway links to Northern California, and threatened to snarl the freeway to Las Vegas today.

Snow and icy roads were predicted on Interstate 15 above the 3,500 feet elevation line, including Cajon Pass, and the National Weather Service suggested emergency travel only in the mountains. It scheduled a winter storm warning from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for mountain areas of Riverside County.

Interstate 15, the freeway to Los Vegas, had freezing rain at Cajon Pass at the noon hour, and snow flurries at Mountain Pass, near the Nevada line, the CHOP reported.

North and west of Riverside, snow closed both the Tejon and Tehachapi passes for most of the morning, leaving only U.S. 101 through Ventura and Salinas open for road travel between the Inland Empire and Northern California. CHP officers began escorting packs of cars, at low speed, over both passes at the noon hour.

Snowfall was expected to grow heavier this afternoon, NWS forecasters said. Precipitation was expected to decrease from north to south tonight.

Between 2 and 4 inches of snow could accumulate at altitudes greater than 3,500 feet, and up to 8 inches could fall in areas above 5,000 feet. Even more snow may fall at San Jacinto Peak, moutnain resort areras and peaks around 7,000 feet, according to the NWS.

In addition to the snow, areas of west winds between 20-30 mph, with gusts of up to 50 mph, were possible, forecasters said. Blowing snow and fog could reduce motorists' visibility.

The NWS advised mountain residents and travelers to be prepared for hazardous winter weather and possible road closures, and to carry tire chains, extra food and water, clothing and a flashlight, if possible.

"Significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous," the winter storm warning stated. "Only travel through the mountains in case of an emergency."

Strong gusty winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph are also expected in the Coachella Valley, according to the NWS. A high wind warning is in effect for the area through 4 a.m. Sunday.

The strongest gusts are expected near the desert slopes, and north and east of Interstate 10.

The desert winds could also impact drivers, especially those with high- profile vehicles, and could blow debris and broken tree limbs into the roadway, forecasters said.



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