Annenberg Radio News

Blizzard warnings hit Southern California

This marks only the second blizzard warning since 1989.

Snow-capped mountains overlook downtown Los Angeles.

A blizzard warning has been issued for Friday and Saturday for Southern California’s mountain regions. The potential blizzard and storms are a result of a massive winter storm that will impact the US West and North regions this weekend.

The blizzard warning is only the second blizzard warning ever issued for the Los Angeles area; the first one was issued over three decades ago on Feb. 4, 1989.

Between Thursday and Saturday, in some LA and Ventura county mountain areas, snowfall is expected to reach 6 to 12 inches, and at the highest elevations, potentially up to 7 feet. In valley areas and coastal areas in Southern California, which include South LA, flood warnings have been issued as the areas are expected to get 2 to 4 inches of rain.

Cliff Mass: Well, it’s unusual, obviously. But I mean...

Cliff Mass is a professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Mass is an expert in weather prediction and modeling, and believes that the winter storm is actually beneficial to the overall climate of California.

Mass: We’re seeing the end of the California drought between what we had earlier this year and now the massive snowpack that’s going to result from this event is going to ensure that California is going to be in pretty good shape when it comes to water resources this coming year. So that is a very, very big positive, really.

However, Mass does not believe that the winter storm is a result of climate change whatsoever.

Mass: I mean, you know, basically we’re seeing, you know, the restoration of water. This is very typical for California. California goes through several dry years and then it has a period of wetter conditions. So that’s the nature of California weather. You know, it’s very uneven and it has these dry periods followed by wet periods. And so it’s always been like that. So this is really not climate change. It’s really the old fashioned climate of California.

Kristen Stewart, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Los Angeles, believes that it’s too soon to determine if the winter storm is a result of climate change.

Kristen Stewart: Yeah, it’s hard to tell for now because you need kind of decades and centuries of data to really, you know, indicate any sort of climate change signal. But, you know, weather systems happen all the time. So, you know, this is kind of more of a smaller, short, shorter time period scale of just kind of normal weather patterns.

Even though Sunday is expected to bring some weather relief, make sure to keep your jacket close by for the return of the rain on Monday.