More thundershowers--some of them heavy at times--are expected over Southern California today as a low-pressure storm system from the Pacific continues to move inland, according to forecasters.
Mike Smith, a meteorologist with WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times, said some areas of the Los Angeles Basin--especially the foothill communities at higher elevations--may get up to an inch of rain before the storm system moves eastward Friday. The National Weather Service said as much as 2 inches could fall in the mountains.
The rain began falling here Wednesday afternoon, with heavy showers reported in the San Gabriel Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains, the high desert east of Palmdale and over Santa Barbara, Orange and San Diego counties.
Snow in Mountains
Hail "the size of marbles" was reported by residents in the Riverside County community of Meadowbrook, near Lake Elsinore.
Snow was expected in the Southern California mountains above the 7,000-foot level.
Smith said the wintry weather was spawned by a storm system "that had been sitting out there, about 300 miles off the coast, all by itself."
As long as this system remained out to sea, the weather here was pretty good. But early Wednesday afternoon, another low-pressure mass about 2,000 miles out began heading east, pushing the first storm system onshore.
"There are little areas of low pressure around it, like spokes on a wheel," Smith said. "Every time a spoke rotates in over the coast, we get more showers and thundershowers."
That's why the rain today should be scattered and sporadic, rather than steady, according to Smith.
Skies to Clear at Weekend
By late Wednesday, .39 of an inch of rain had fallen in downtown Los Angeles, raising the total for the season to 2.95 inches. That was nearly four times the seasonal norm for the date of .77 of an inch and surpassed the 2.68 inches recorded last season by Nov. 4.
Other rainfall amounts included .80 in Montebello, .67 in Bakersfield, .44 in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, where snow was reported at the higher elevations, .43 in San Gabriel, .39 in Pasadena, .19 in Santa Barbara, .20 in Long Beach and Woodland Hills, .09 in Santa Monica and .02 at Los Angeles International Airport.
Two people died when a pickup truck hydroplaned across the center line in a heavy downpour and hit their Volkswagen head-on in the 8600 block of West La Tuna Canyon Road in Sunland, authorities said.
The names of the man and the woman who died were not released. The unidentified driver of the pickup was taken to Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills with minor injuries, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jim Williamson.
Lightning strikes, fallen tree limbs, and wet leaves caused power outages throughout the Southland from the Antelope Valley to Chino, utility company officials said.
About 25,000 Southern California Edison Co. customers were blacked out for periods ranging from a few minutes to several hours, and 5,000 customers were still without power in the late evening, spokesman Robert Krauch said.
Areas affected by Edison outages included the Antelope Valley, City of Industry, Diamond Bar, El Monte and West Hollywood, Krauch said.
After two lightning strikes were reported, El Monte police dispatcher Scott Miller said that "much of the northern part of the city is without power and we've had to erect portable traffic signs."
Areas Blacked Out
More than 2,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers were blacked out during the day, mostly in the San Fernando Valley areas of Sylmar, Sunland and Tujunga.
Repair crews worked late into the night to restore power to 300 Valley area customers still without power, DWP spokeswoman Dorothy Jensen said.
At least seven people on Mexicana Airlines' flight 908 from Mexico City were treated for minor injuries Wednesday night when their Boeing 727 hit severe turbulence about 15 minutes out of Los Angeles International Airport. The aircraft, apparently undamaged, departed from Los Angeles at 7:44 p.m., about an hour behind schedule, for its return flight to Guadalajara and then Mexico City, an airline spokesman said.
The high temperature at the Civic Center on Wednesday was a relatively chilly 67 degrees, after an even chillier morning low of 58. The humidity was relatively high, ranging from 66% to 93%, and that contributed to the generally clammy feeling.
Smith said that highs today and Friday should remain in the 60s but that skies will probably clear over the weekend, with the highs climbing into the upper 60s Saturday and even the low 70s by Sunday.