A wet Christmas is forecast for the Coachella Valley, with as much as an inch-and-half of rain expected to hit the desert floor and even more anticipated in adjacent foothills beginning Wednesday afternoon.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch, noting the possibility of heavy snow in Southern California mountains set to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Friday.
An inch to 1 1/2 inches of rain are expected to hit desert cities in the Coachella Valley starting Wednesday afternoon, and 1 to 3 feet of snow is expected at elevations beginning at 4,000 feet, said meteorologist James Brotherton.
With rain also comes the possibility of flooding, especially along the channels coming out of the neighboring mountainous areas — including the San Gorgonios to the northwest and San Jacintos to the west.
According to the NWS, several inches of rain could hit lower desert slopes and foothills surrounding the valley, with the water expected to runoff into the desert and flow southward toward Indio beginning Thursday.
The runoff is expected to saturate the valley’s normally dry washes and creeks as it travels through the Palm Springs area starting midday Thursday, Brotherton said, along the Coachella Stormwater Channel and into Indio by the evening.
Dangerous fast-moving water could develop in the valley, and could spur road closures on Thursday, the NWS warned.
The rain is anticipated to taper off Friday, making way for a warmer weekend, but water will mostly likely remain in local canals going into Friday, according to the NWS.
Christmas Day last year saw minimal rainfall, according to Brotherton, who said this year’s rainfall total in Palm Springs since Oct. 1 is nearing normal.
So far, 1.46 inches of rain has fallen in Palm Springs, which is close to the 1.51-inch annual average.