Fast-moving cold front brings more rain to California
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A fast-moving cold front brought more rain and snow to California on Friday, starting in the north and then moving southward.
Winter storm warnings were posted for the Sierra Nevada and mountains elsewhere, including ranges from the Central Coast southward from Los Angeles to San Diego counties.
People intending to travel through the mountains were urged to be prepared for potentially heavy snow and dangerous conditions.
Forecasters predicted snow would fall at low elevations up and down the state due to cold air behind the front.
The San Francisco Bay Area, for example, might see scattered snow showers at elevations as low as 2,000 feet Friday night and early Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
Snow levels in the mountains from Santa Barbara County south to San Diego County were forecast to drop as low as 3,000 feet, bringing potential trouble to highways in high-elevation passes such as the Interstate 5 corridor between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley.
After five years of drought, California has seen improvement lately as storms have moved through the state.
Now, 15 percent of the state — the north coast and part of the far northern interior — are free of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. About 60 percent of the state remains in the three worst levels of drought — severe, extreme and exceptional.
As recently as September 100 percent of the state was at some level of drought.
Many areas scarred by wildfires from the Central Coast south to Los Angeles County were under flash flood watches on Friday.
"Rainfall rates may be intense enough to create mud and debris flows in and around the burn areas," the National Weather Service said.
In Southern California, many of those burn areas were already soaked by midweek rains from a system that drew tropical moisture into the region and a storm last week.
In the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles, the city of Duarte was on "yellow alert" — the second-highest level in its safety system — and advised residents that mud and debris flows could be similar to what occurred on Dec. 16, when a torrent gushed from a fire scar above town. K-rail barriers already positioned in the neighborhood protected homes.