Rain doused the Southland today, and heavy snow and strong gusty winds are expected in the San Gabriel Mountains between tonight and early Saturday, likely creating perilous traveling conditions, National Weather Service forecasters said.
A storm system that reached the Southland Wednesday night brought showers to the region -- generally light this morning though heavy in Lancaster -- while in the mountains, the snow level was at or above 7,000 feet, according to the NWS.
Colder air was expected to stream into the mountains late tonight and early tomorrow, dropping the snow level to between 6,000 and 6,500 feet and by another 1,000 feet or so on Friday.
According to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, about 11,100 customers were without electricity as of 9:30 a.m. Among the communities affected most: El Sereno, 3,500 customers; Windsor Square, 3,400 customers; Westwood, 1,000 customers; and Vermont Square, 900 customers.
Southern California Edison reported about 9:30 a.m. that about 3,500 customers were without electricity in its 50,000-square-mile Southland jurisdiction.
At the same time, northeast winds will increase significantly, with sustained speeds of between 20 and 30 miles per hour and 55-mph gusts possible over ridges and through passes and canyons, according to an NWS advisory. Gusty northeast winds expected to blow through Saturday morning will help generate heavier snow showers, especially across the eastern San Gabriels, including in the Wrightwood area, and snow showers, which will be moderate generally but heavy in places, will persist through Friday, the advisory said.
A winter weather advisory, projecting snow and blowing snow and a resulting reduction in visibility, will be in effect in the Los Angeles County portion of the San Gabriels from 6 p.m. today until noon Saturday.
"Use caution when traveling, especially in open areas," the NWS advisory urged.
Between four and eight inches of snow are expected, with up to 12 inches likely on higher peaks and the heaviest snowfall expected tonight into Friday morning,
"The combination of gusty winds and snow will result in dangerous driving conditions due to blowing and drifting snow and near-zero visibility at times," according to the advisory. "The higher portions of the Angeles Crest Highway, Highway 2 and surrounding roads will be most vulnerable to these conditions."
Today's rain showers were formed by residual moisture from a dissipating cold front combined with an onshore flow, NWS forecasters said, adding that most areas should receive less than a half-inch of rain, although an inch was expected in the mountains and the foothills in the Antelope Valley. If a thunderstorm develops, the rainfall will be even heavier.
Also expected today are gusty high winds across sections of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, resulting from what NWS forecasters described as the combination of strong surface high pressure building over the Great Basin and an upper-level low pressure system moving across the area.
In L.A. County, a wind advisory will be in force from midnight tonight through noon Saturday in the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.
Temperatures, meanwhile, were relatively moderate, with highs in the 60s generally expected in the Greater Los Angeles area today.
The NWS forecast highs of 46 on Mount Wilson; 61 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 63 in Avalon; 64 in Saugus; 65 in Long Beach, San Gabriel, Anaheim and at LAX; 66 in Newport Beach, Pasadena, Burbank and Woodland Hills; and 67 in downtown L.A.