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Winds, chance of thunderstorms on tap for Southern California

February 15, 2012 |  7:08 am

A feeble rainstorm from Alaska could possibly trigger thunderclaps in Los Angeles County on Wednesday afternoon and evening, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said there is a 20% chance of thunderstorms across the L.A. area late Wednesday. But the rainstorm was expected to be all but anemic, water-wise. Overall rain totals were expected to be light, with less than one-tenth of an inch in most areas, and some areas may not get measurable rain at all, forecasters said.

There was a better chance for snow at local ski resorts, with about 10 inches expected for Big Bear and other areas above an elevation of 5,000 feet in the San Bernardino County mountains.

But winds could be a problem. Gusts of up to 40 mph were expected along the L.A. County coast, and authorities warned of blowing snow along Interstate 5 on the Grapevine, along California 14, Pearblossom Highway and California 33 in Ventura County.

And one note of warning for Westside commuters: President Obama's scheduled arrival at 4 p.m. at Los Angeles International Airport and his trip to a fund-raiser in Holmby Hills north of the Los Angeles Country Club could cause traffic headaches during the afternoon commute.

Sunny skies return on Thursday, with highs jumping back to 70 in L.A. after a cool Wednesday, when highs will peak in the 50s or 60s. But gusts will continue Thursday, with winds up to 15 mph expected in Los Angeles County and gusts up to 60 mph below the passes and western slopes in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

It has been a dry winter for Southern California -- since the summer, just 5.09 inches of rain have fallen in downtown Los Angeles, and the average for this time of year is 9.25 inches.


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-- Rong-Gong Lin II