Winter Storm expected to hit Riverside County tonight

RIVERSIDE – Rain may start falling in parts of Riverside County as early as tonight as a strong Pacific storm that is expected to bring heavy precipitation and potentially damaging winds in the coming days heads toward the region.

The brunt of the storm is expected Friday and Saturday. A National Weather Service winter storm watch for the mountains will take effect Friday, as will a flash flood watch for the entire county and a high wind watch for the
city of Riverside, the surrounding valleys, the Coachella Valley and the San Gorgonio Pass zone, which includes the cities of Banning and Desert Hot Springs.

“A major storm system will move in from the Pacific on Friday, bringing heavy rainfall and the potential of flash flooding to Southern California Friday through Saturday with the greatest impact period forecast to be Friday
night,” according to the NWS.

The wet winter storm is poised to deliver through Saturday .92 of an inch of rain in Thermal; .97 of an inch in Palm Springs; 1.47 inches in Anza; 1.50 inches in Hemet; 2.05 inches in Temecula; 2.32 inches in the city of Riverside; and 3.01 inches in Lake Elsinore, according to the weather service. Rainfall rates of a half an inch to an inch per hour are possible, which could lead to flash flooding.

Up to 7 inches of snow could accumulate in elevations between 6,000 and 7,000 feet, and up to 2 feet may fall on higher peaks.

Forecasters said that while heavy snow would be confined to locations bove 6,000 feet, strong winds are likely at all elevations. The strongest winds are expected Friday, and gusts may down trees and powerlines and could possibly damage some structures.

The strongest wind gusts Friday are expected to be 31 miles per hour in Hemet; 32 mph in Palm Springs; 36 mph in Thermal; 38 mph in Anza; 40 mph in Temecula; 43 mph in Riverside; and 44 mph in Lake Elsinore, according to the weather service.

“Two day rainfall totals will likely be substantial, along with very strong winds making for hazardous travel conditions and possible tree damage,” according to the NWS. “Heavy rainfall rates may cause flash flooding, debris
flows and possible river flooding.”

The winds are expected to weaken Saturday morning. Rain showers and mountain snow could continue Saturday, but the region should dry out for the most part Sunday, although light rain may possibly fall in some areas into
Monday, according to the NWS.

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