Gusty winds to continue before storm brings travel headaches to Riverside County

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Gusty winds will continue Tuesday morning in the Inland Empire before a major storm system moves into Southern California on Wednesday and drops moderate to heavy amounts of rain and snow through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

A high wind warning in the Coachella Valley, the Riverside County mountains and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning expired at 7 p.m. Monday, but a wind advisory will last until 9 a.m. today in the Inland Empire and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning.

Winds speeds between 15-25 mph, with gusts potentially reaching 45 mph, are expected in the Inland Empire below the Cajon and San Gorgonio passes, forecasters said.

The NWS warned that the winds could be strong enough to damage trees and power lines. The rapid gusts could also create hazardous driving conditions, especially for high-profile vehicles.

The winds will taper off by this afternoon, then conditions will be fair before a storm system arrives Wednesday morning to cause headaches for holiday travelers.

Rainfall totals through Friday could reach 3 inches in the Riverside County mountains, 1.5 to 2 inches in the Riverside metropolitan areas and less than two-thirds of an inch in the Coachella Valley, NWS meteorologist Miguel Miller said.

A flash flood watch will be in effect Wednesday morning through Thursday evening in the Riverside metropolitan area and the Inland Empire.

The bulk of the rain is expected to start falling Wednesday evening, but showers will be consistent in some areas on Thursday as well, Miller said.

“Current forecasts are not expected to reach thresholds for significant mud and debris flows in recent burn scar areas, but residents are advised to be ready should conditions change,” the Riverside Emergency Management Department said in a statement on its website.

A winter storm warning will be in effect from 4 a.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Friday in the Riverside County and San Bernardino County mountains above 3,000 feet.

Snow levels will remain above 5,000 feet through Wednesday night, then drop to about 3,500 feet by Thursday night, Miller said.

Mount San Jacinto in Idyllwild could get up to 2 feet of snow at its highest peaks by the time the storm system makes its exit by Saturday afternoon, Miller said.

Thunderstorms will also be possible Wednesday evening through late Thursday night in the Riverside County mountains, the Coachella Valley, the Riverside metropolitan area and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, forecasters said.

The storm system will continue moving to the east on Friday and should clear the region by Saturday night.

High temperatures today could reach 65 degrees in Riverside, 65 in the San Gorgonio Pass, 69 in the Coachella Valley, and 64 in Temecula and 62 in Hemet.