Snow could fall in the mountains beginning late Monday or early Tuesday, when snow levels are expected to lower to altitudes of around 4,000 to 4,500 feet, according toRusso. The heaviest snowfall is expected Tuesday night and snow levels are expected to drop as low as 2,500 feet through early Wednesday.
However, the storm will be hit-and-miss, much like the storm last week that hit some mountain locations with more than two feet of snow and left others with mere dustings, said meteorologist Rich Thompson at the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.
Up to eight inches of snow could accumulate in areas above 3,500 feet, up to 16 inches above 4,500 feet and more than two feet in areas above 7,000 feet, according to Russo. Winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts of around 75 mph are expected along desert mountain slopes.
A winter storm watch is set to take effect Tuesday morning for mountain areas including Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley, Santa Ysabel and Warner Springs. Interstate 8 has three summits above 4,000 feet in East County.
“A winter storm watch means there is a potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel,” according to the weather service statement.
Blowing snow and dense fog could cause visibility to be reduced to near zero, especially Tuesday night. Motorists on mountain roads, including Interstate 8 in East County, should prepare for hazardous conditions and were urged to check road conditions before embarking on their travels.
The NWS advised drivers in mountain areas to carry tire chains along with extra food and clothing.
“This weather may be deadly for unprepared campers and hikers,” the NWS warned.
Rain and isolated thunderstorms with small hail are also expected elsewhere in the county Tuesday through early Wednesday. Up to three-quarters of an inch is expected along the coast and 2.5 inches in some mountain areas, but less than a third of an inch is expected in the deserts.