Riverside rain
Rain in Riverside. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Parts of Riverside County are experiencing record low temperatures as a powerful winter storm moves through the region Friday bringing freezing temperatures, heavy rain and snow and gusty conditions.

It was 49 in Lake Elsinore on Thursday, breaking the record for the lowest maximum temperature for the day of 50 set in 1969, according to the National Weather Service. It was 52 in Palm Springs, breaking the record of 53 set in 1944. It was 52 in Borrego, breaking the record of 55 set in 2004.

The powerful winter storm making its way toward Riverside County is bringing low-elevation snow, widespread rain showers and cold temperatures that will impact the area through the weekend.

Scattered showers fell across parts of the region Wednesday, with that rain expected to become more widespread by Thursday morning.

“The cold nature of this system is expected to bring snow to elevations as low as 2,000 feet,” according to the National Weather Service. “Up to 2 inches of snow may accumulate in portions of the Inland Empire and eastern San Diego County. Snow is expected to accumulate in portions of the High Desert as well. Snow is expected there by Thursday afternoon, with up to 4 inches expected. Snow levels will rise to 3,000 to 3,500 feet through the day Thursday, with snow levels closer to 4,000 feet expected by Friday morning.”

Another round of wet weather will slide into the area Friday and Saturday, bringing more widespread and heavier precipitation, forecasters said. The precipitation will be accompanied by strong south winds Friday and Friday night.

Forecasters also warned of heavy snow and gusting winds that will “create dangerous conditions in the mountains.”

“Snowfall is expected on all of the mountain ranges with the highest accumulations expected in the San Bernardino and portions of the Riverside County mountains,” according to the NWS. “Top forecast snowfall totals of 4 to up to 7 feet are expected in the mountains. For the San Bernardino and Riverside County mountains for Friday into Saturday, the combination of very heavy snow, low visibilities from snow, blowing snow, and fog, and strong gusty south winds will create blizzard conditions at times.”

A winter storm warning will be in effect until 3 p.m. Saturday in the Riverside County mountains, with forecasters anticipating 1 to 3 feet above 6,000 feet and 3 to 4 feet of snow on higher peaks. At least 4 inches of snow are anticipated in most other mountain areas, forecasters said.

A flood watch will be in effect from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening in the Riverside County valleys and mountains, along with the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning. Forecasters warned of possibly excessive runoff that could result in flooded rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying areas.

According to the NWS, rain could fall at a rate of a half-inch to 0.6 inches per hour, with the highest rates expected on the southwest facing mountain slopes.

Daytime temperatures in Riverside County valleys are expected in the 40s and 50s, but dipping into the 30s at night. Mountain areas could see temperatures in the low 20s at night, possibly falling into the teens on Friday and Saturday nights.

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