Rain, snow and unusually cold temperatures are coming to Southern California this week, setting the stage for a soggy Thanksgiving and presenting a challenge for those planning to drive or fly for the holiday weekend.

The National Weather Service warned Sunday of a major storm expected to hit the area Wednesday and last through Friday.

“Though exact timing remains uncertain, confidence is high that widespread rain, heavy at times, will affect the region for the holidays,” the NWS said.

Although the rain isn’t expected to arrive until Wednesday, expected tidal overflow has prompted officials to issue a coastal flood advisory in the Southland from 6 a.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Strong winds and slightly cooler temperatures are expected Monday. A high wind warning is in effect from noon to 3 a.m. Tuesday for northwest winds across the mountains and the Antelope Valley. Gusts could get as high as 60 mph, according to the NWS.

Tuesday is expected to see continued cooling and increased clouds ahead of the major thrust of the storm, which forecasters say will hit the area overnight, bringing heavy rainfall Wednesday and Thursday. One to two inches of rain are expected along the coast and valleys and up to three inches in the mountains and foothills.

The rain threatens to wreak havoc on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. More than 4.3 million Southland residents plan to travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

That would be the highest Thanksgiving volume on record for California travel and the second-highest travel volume nationally since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005.

Of the 4.3 million Southern Californians expected to take Thanksgiving trips, 3.7 million will travel by car, 500,000 by aircraft and 123,800 will rely on other modes of travel, including buses and cruise ships.

The NWS said there was the potential for road closures later in the week due to possible snow and ice on the I-5 Grapevine.

The rain is expected to clear Friday, but temperatures will remain cool through the weekend.

Wednesday’s expected high in downtown Los Angeles is 61, dropping to 57 on Thursday and 59 on Friday and Saturday.

The forecast was great for snow lovers, with “significant” accumulations expected at resorts, lowering to 2,500-4,000 feet Wednesday afternoon through Thursday. Most areas will get about one inch, but the eastern San Gabriel mountains might get up to two inches, the NWS said.

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