A storm system moving down the West Coast is expected to wallop the Sierra Nevada, dropping feet of snow before bringing widespread rain and wind to Southern California later this week.
Officials have issued a winter storm warning for the Sierra from Wednesday night to Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service office in Sacramento.
The Sierra could see 1 to 3 feet of snow and wind gusts of 45 to 65 mph. The mountains of Shasta County and the southern Cascade Mountains are expected to get 10 to 30 inches of snow.
Authorities are discouraging travel on mountain highways and have said another storm system is expected to hit Northern California over the weekend.
The storm is forecast to lose some of its bite as it moves south.
Meteorologists expect light rain as early as Wednesday, with moderate to heavy rain and gusty winds from the south beginning late Thursday in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, then moving south to Ventura and Los Angeles counties by early Friday, according to the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.
"Rain will taper off by Friday night, but light showers are possible again early Sunday," the weather service said.
Forecasters expect 1 to 2 inches of rain in coastal and valley areas and 2 to 4 inches in the mountains.
Snow levels through early Friday are expected to generally remain above 7,000 feet, so any accumulations will remain at resort levels and above, the weather service said.
The weather service's San Diego forecast office, which also covers Orange County and the Inland Empire, said scattered showers are possible in its area Thursday, but "more substantial, widespread rain" is expected to move from the northwest to southeast that night.
"The highest chances and heaviest rainfall will remain focused on San Bernardino and Riverside counties, mainly occurring through the overnight hours into Friday morning," the weather service said. "Lighter rainfall will spread into Riverside and San Diego counties overnight."
Forecasters say south- and southwest-facing slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains could get 1 to 2 inches of rain.
Less than an inch is expected in Orange County and the western Inland Empire, and ¼ inch or less in San Diego County and desert areas, the weather service said.
Gusty onshore winds are expected to increase Thursday morning in the mountains and deserts, reaching peak intensity Thursday night into early Friday.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.