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Cold, rainy storm moving into Southern California

April 7, 2011 |  9:03 am

An unseasonably cold storm is expected to hit Southern California on Thursday, bringing rain, snow and gusty winds, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The biggest threat was expected north of Point Conception and across the San Gabriel Mountains, forecasters said.

Showers would likely be light Thursday with snow levels generally above 5,000 feet, dropping to as low as 2,000 feet late Thursday into Friday.

“This initial front will bring a sharp cooling trend with gusty onshore winds,” weather service officials said in a statement.

The strongest winds were expected in the Los Angeles County mountains and the Antelope Valley, where the weather service has issued a wind advisory. Much colder temperatures and rapidly falling snow levels were likely as the cold, low-pressure system moved south into Friday morning, forecasters said.

The unstable atmosphere could cause a slight chance of thunderstorms with “brief heavy downpours, small hail and dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning,” according to the weather service statement.

The thunderstorms could produce local rainfall of more than 1 inch to 3/4 of an inch, officials said.

Reduced visibility, cold temperatures and icy roads were expected on Interstate 5 near the Grapevine and parts of the Cuyama and Antelope valleys, weather officials said.

Snow was not expected to accumulate in those areas, but the local mountains could receive between 1 inch and 3 inches of snow.

Below-normal temperatures could create frosty conditions Friday night across the coldest interior valleys.

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-- Ann M. Simmons

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