More rain, snow for SoCal; Mammoth extends ski season (again)

A rare spring storm swept into drought-stricken Southern California on Friday.
A rare spring storm swept into drought-stricken Southern California on Friday.
File photo by Wonderlane via Flickr Creative Commons

A second round of rain from a rare spring storm swept into drought-stricken Southern California on Friday, along with heavy winds, snow in the mountains and the possibility of hail and lightning.

Scattered thunderstorms were expected from San Diego north to Ventura County as the brunt of the system moved on shore and headed east, the National Weather Service said.

Drivers were urged to use caution on roads in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains, where between 3 to 6 inches of snow was possible above 6,000 feet. Temperatures hovered around freezing at higher elevations.

The cold storm from the Gulf of Alaska brought bands of brief, heavy downpours Thursday to Los Angeles County and points east and south, dumping anywhere from trace amounts in some places to up to 1 ½ inches in portions of San Diego and Ventura counties.

Firefighters rescued six motorists and a dog who became trapped in 3 feet of water on a San Diego street, and they pulled a man from the rushing water of a flood control channel in Northridge, about 25 miles north of Los Angeles, authorities said.

"One minute it's a little bit of water and all of a sudden it got deeper and deeper really fast," Capt. Joe Amador of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said about the flooded street.

Flooding and debris flows are possible if thunderstorms form over foothill areas stripped bare by wildfires.

The downpour delayed the San Diego Padres' game against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park and the Los Angeles Dodgers' game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodgers Stadium. Meanwhile, snow in the forecast for Friday forced organizers to relocate the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race from Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains to Santa Clarita.

Mammoth Mountain hasn't announced a closing date for the ski season, but Communications Manager Lauren Burke told KPCC that the resort is planning to stay open through the Memorial Day weekend.

The drenching was a bit of a surprise to forecasters.

"We don't see these kinds of storms this late in May," Stuart Seto with the National Weather Service in Oxnard said, "and not this cold."

The rain was met with joy by parched residents.

"I've been actually waiting for this like, a whole week, for thunderstorms and rain and everything," Michael Karapetyan of Glendale told KABC-TV. "I'm tired of this sunshine and sunshine."

To the north, the storm brought thunder and lightning to the San Francisco Bay area with some bolts reaching the ground. Brief spurts of rain and hail were reported but generally only in trace amounts. Some street flooding occurred in Fresno.

The rain was doing little to ease water woes in the historically parched state.

"It won't have any huge impact on the drought," weather service meteorologist Ryan Kittell said of the storm. "But any little bit will help."


This story has been updated.