Christmas Day should remain a dry one for the Coachella Valley, a National Weather Service meteorologist said Wednesday, but rain and possible flooding remain in the forecast for Thursday.
“It’s a little bit delayed,” NWS meteorologist Brandt Maxwell said about the rain originally expected locally for Christmas. “Today most of the showers will be over the mountains. There won’t be too much action today.”
But Thursday is a different story. Anticipated to begin between 6 a.m. and noon, the Coachella Valley should expect about an inch of rain throughout the day, Maxwell said, with even more anticipated in adjacent foothills.
The National Weather Service upgraded its winter storm watch to a winter storm warning at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, noting the possibility of heavy snow in Southern California mountains starting at 6 p.m. through 6 a.m. Friday.
In the nearby mountains, about 4 to 8 inches of snow is expected at elevations beginning at 4,000 feet, according to the NWS, with amounts increasing to 1 to 2 feet at 6,000 feet.
Nestled near the top of San Jacinto Peak, the endpoint of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — which reaches an elevation of about 8,000 feet — could see upwards of two feet of snow, Maxwell said.
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, 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 most likely remain in local canals going into Friday, according to the NWS.
At 1.46 inches of rain since Oct. 1, this year’s rainfall total in Palm Springs is nearing normal, which is close to the 1.51-inch annual average, the NWS said.