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Storm moves out, but snow possible Saturday in L.A. coastal foothills [Updated]

February 26, 2011 |  8:14 am

Into the great white yonder

A rainstorm moved through Southern California overnight, but the region is still expecting cold temperatures, frost and the potential for snow in low-lying areas.

According to the National Weather Service on Saturday, the storm dumped 1 to 2 inches of rain in the foothills and about half an inch of rain in the L.A. basin.

The Sepulveda Boulevard onramp to the 105 Freeway was closed due to flooding, and rainy conditions may have played a role in a fatal freeway crash overnight in Sun Valley, officials said. Long Beach fire officials rescued a man from the raging Los Angeles River early Saturday morning.

[Updated at 9:30 a.m.: Hail fell Saturday morning in South Pasadena. Snow fell along the Grapevine, but Interstate 5 remained open, officials said.]

The snow level dropped to 1,500 feet in parts of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and the weather service said the level in Los Angeles County foothills could drop to 1,000-2,000 feet depending on conditions.

Snowflakes could fall on the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Antelope and the Santa Clarita valleys, and in the higher elevations on the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley, such as Porter Ranch, said Curt Kaplan, a weather service meteorologist in Oxnard. 

As for foothill communities such as La Crescenta and Altadena, "absolutely, they'll be getting some snow for sure, at least a dusting of it," Kaplan said.

Sunday should see cold temperatures and mostly sunny skies, forecasters said.

In San Francisco, Friday's sunny skies turned snowy in hilly neighborhoods such as Twin Peaks after dark, according to meteorologist Mark Strobin of the National Weather Service in Monterey.

Trained spotters for the weather service reported snowflakes sticking to the wooden fences and beams, but there were no reports of snow sticking to the ground in the hills, much less at sea level in the city, Strobin said.

Still, snow fell at sea level just outside the weather service's offices in Monterey. "It's pretty exciting," Strobin said, although the snow melted once it hit the ground.

The prospect of the first significant snowfall in San Francisco in 35 years brought much anticipation this week. The website http://isitsnowinginsfyet.com/ heralded the snowflakes' arrival overnight by posting images of snowmen.

The arctic storm also brought snow to the San Joaquin Valley city of Arvin, at an elevation of 400 feet, and in the hills above the Central California coastal city of San Luis Obispo, Kaplan said. 

As to whether the storm would be cold enough for snowflakes to dust the ground near the Hollywood sign, chances were looking slim. Kaplan said the weather service has updated its forecast to say snowfall in the L.A. area would be as low as 1,500 feet, higher than a previous forecast of 1,000 feet.

The Hollywood sign on Mt. Lee is at an elevation of about 1,600 feet. 

"I don't think it'll be down to the Hollywood sign," Kaplan said. "But who knows?"


Historical snowfall in the Los Angeles area

San Francisco is consumed by the chance of snow

Rains falling in L.A., but snow possible in low-elevation areas

-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Shelby Grad

Photo: With visibilty near zero, skiers ride the chairlift at Mountain High Resort as a winter storm moves in Friday afternoon. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times