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Weekend weather forecast for Southern California

February 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
An extremely cold storm system, originally from Canada, is moving across Southern California through Saturday night. Snow levels will be unusually low for the entire Golden State.

For Southern California, snow levels will start out about 4,000 feet as the main cold front sweeps through the area. Then we'll see snow levels dropping significantly as an arctic cold air mass takes over.

Snow levels are expected to drop to around 2,000 feet to as low as 500 feet up north in some areas including San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara early Saturday morning. Substantial snowfall is possible across the mountains, as well as the Antelope Valley and Cajon Pass, with above a foot and a half of snow above 5,000 feet and four to nine inches of snow below 5,000 feet. Plus, there will likely be a dusting to light snow accumulation in Simi Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley, the Santa Monica Mountains and the Malibu hills.

Rain totals through Saturday night will range from 0.40 to 1-inch across coastal and valley areas. The heaviest rain fell late Friday night into early Saturday morning as the storm front passed through the Southland. Scattered showers with pockets of heavy rain are expected Saturday afternoon and overnight.

The cold and unstable conditions behind the front will also bring the potential for thunderstorms in some of the northern areas Saturday afternoon for the southland areas, with the possibility of some heavy downpours and small hail. It will also be cold and windy on Saturday night into Sunday.

It will get a little warmer Sunday across the area as the storm moves east, leaving only isolated showers in the local mountains and extreme south county regions. Most of the wet weather will wind down by early Sunday morning, with a mix of sun and clouds in the afternoon. However, temperatures will still be well below normal so keep your winter coat handy.

Heavy snow and gusty winds could cause whiteout conditions with visibility near zero, especially above 5,000 feet. Accumulating snow is expected over the 5 Freeway, 14 Freeway and 15 Freeway Saturday. Visibility could be "near zero" at times along the Grapevine, with winds of 20-30 mph, gusting to 50 mph.

As of Sunday morning, there were no warnings and watches for Southern California.

See a full list of current watches, warnings and advisories for the region.