A series of cold storm systems is moving down from the Gulf of Alaska, bearing a bounty of wind, snow, rain and low temperatures to celebrate the first weekend of spring in Southern California, forecasters said Thursday.
Promptly at 7:52 p.m. today, the sun will cross the celestial Equator in Aquarius, making this the official first day of spring, 1987.
"But don't pack away the sweaters and umbrellas just yet," said Steve Newman, chief meteorologist for Earth Environment Service, a private weather forecasting firm based in San Francisco.
"California is in for a cool and showery time through at least noon on Sunday, and perhaps beyond. The lowest snow levels of the season can be expected in the Sierra--1,500 feet in many places--and there will be a 50% chance of showers in Southern California through Sunday morning.
"The most noticeable effect for most people, though, should be the cooler temperatures."
In Orange County, Santa Ana recorded a high Thursday of 66. It was 64 in Newport Beach, and in San Juan Capistrano, the swallows came home to 63-degree weather. High temperature at Los Angeles Civic Center was 64 degrees, with relative humidity ranging from 27% to 80%.
The National Weather Service said that today should be a degree or two warmer, with fair skies.
But by Saturday, forecasters said, all that should change.
Weather Service meteorologists said the highs Friday in Orange County should be in the 60s, with a lot less wind than the day before. Snow showers can be expected in most parts of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains, where north to northwest winds could hit 30 m.p.h. or more at times and overnight temperatures could plunge to the teens from afternoon highs in the mid-30s to low 40s.
Snow was falling in scattered Southland mountain locations Thursday but meteorologists agreed that this should give way to generally fair skies today, shifting back to the cold-wind-and-snow mode by Saturday. By then, forecasters were predicting a chance of rain in Orange County.
Travelers advisories were in effect for the Sierra, where winds--which hit speeds of 100 m.p.h. Wednesday night--were expected to gust to 40 m.p.h. and above, with snow showers continuing off and on until Monday.
Beaches, which were expected to be clear and sunny today--though a bit cool with sea breezes to 30 m.p.h. at times--were expected to turn cloudy and occasionally rainy again Saturday and Sunday with surf to 4 feet in most places, water temperature in the mid-50s and air temperature in the low 60s.
Winds Off the Coast
There were small craft advisories for westerly and northwesterly winds rising to 35 knots or better in inner and outer coastal waters from Point Conception to the Mexican border Thursday, and forecasters said westerlies should be blowing 20 knots or more on the weekend afternoons, with cloudy skies and a chance of showers.
Desert weekenders were warned to dress for cloudy skies with a chance of showers, with afternoon temperatures to the upper 50s in the northern deserts and to the low 70s in the south.
Arizona was expecting bad weather to continue through the weekend with showers lingering around the eastern mountains until early next week, while Ensenada's forecast called for partly cloudy skies with winds gusting to 25 m.p.h. and above at times and a 40% chance of showers during the weekend.