Cold winter storm blowing into the desert

Weekend events around Coachella Valley to face possibility of scattered rain, winds and cooler temperatures

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A cold low pressure system brought gusty winds to the Coachella Valley early today as a winter storm crept into the region, threatening to saturate Riverside County with snow and rain through Saturday.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the Coachella Valley and a winter weather advisory for the mountains from 3 o'clock this morning to 3 a.m. Saturday. During the wind advisory period, sustained west winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour -- gusting up to 55 mph -- were expected in
the Coachella Valley.

"The winds will make driving difficult, especially for motorists with high profile vehicles," according to an NWS advisory. "Watch for broken tree limbs and downed power lines."

In the mountains, snow levels around 4,500 feet this morning were expected to fall to around 3,000 to 3,500 later today and to 2,500 feet overnight. Also, sustained winds of 15 to 30 mph were expected to cause blowing snow in the mountains today, reducing visibility to a quarter-mile or less at times.

The heaviest snow is expected during the day today, according to the NWS. The agency said four to eight inches of snow accumulation is likely above 4,000 feet, and up to 10 inches is possible on higher elevated coastal slopes.

"Slick, snow covered roads and reduced visibility will make travel hazardous through the mountains," an NWS advisory said. "Chains may be required for some roads."

The storm is also expected to drench the Inland Empire with up to an inch of rain. There is a slight chance of thunderstorms and small hail this afternoon and evening, according to the weather service.

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