Thanksgiving storm blankets Southern California mountains, turns deadly in Arizona

Adriana Navarro
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Thanksgiving storm blankets Southern California mountains, turns deadly in Arizona

A Thanksgiving Day storm brought a deluge of rainfall to the Southwest along with dangerous travel conditions.

The storm moved south from Northern California into Southern California, dousing the state in the early hours of Thursday morning. The National Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory for the coastal Los Angeles County, and a flood advisory for the county soon followed. Surrounding counties have been set on flood watch into Thursday evening.

"Thanksgiving started on a stormy note for many across Southern California as heavy rain and thunderstorms moved across the region. Many areas across the LA Basin picked up a quick 0.50 to 0.75 of an inch of rain this morning," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg. "Due to the heavy rainfall across Southern California, flooding was reported in several areas around the Los Angeles Basin."

The Thanksgiving Day storm had brought a near definite end to the fire season in Southern California, as well as disruptive snow to people driving through the region's mountains.

Flood advisories were issued for Ventura and Los Angeles counties on Thursday morning as rain rates reached 0.2 to 0.4 of an inch per hour with local rates of 0.5 of an inch per hour, according to the NWS. To put this into context, Los Angeles typically receives around an inch of rain in all of November.

By Thursday afternoon, Long Beach had received 2.17 inches of rain, surpassing the 1970 record of 1.93 inches.

Rainfall of 1-2 inches was widespread across coastal Southern California to the Inland Empire from the storm.

The NWS warned of the possibility of mud and debris flows near the burn scars of the recent Getty Fire and Palisades Fire.

The storm wrecked havoc on Thanksgiving Day travel, inundating roads and slowing speeds on the highways. Waters rose near San Diego, submerging roads in at least two feet of water in some areas.

Hail fell near Goleta, a coastal city in southern Santa Barbara County, California, as a heavier burst of rain moved through the area.

The rain turned to snow at higher elevations of roughly 3,000 feet, shutting down roadways such as Interstate 5 at Parker Road and the Grapevine. The highway fully reopened by 3:15 p.m. PST.

The Fort Tejon California Highway Patrol was kept busy through the morning, clearing stuck vehicles as snow continued to fall.

Palmdale, California, an area just north of Los Angeles, received snow at the low elevation of 2,600 feet. Around 10:30 a.m. PST, a weather spotter reported 6 inches of snow to the NWS along with several large tree limbs down in Leona Valley, an area west of Palmdale.

The Mt. Baldy Fire Department reported 10 inches of snow at the altitude of 5,000 feet on Mt. Baldy.

This same storm system was pushing on across the West, bringing cold rain into parts of Nevada and Arizona and snowy conditions into high elevations from Utah to Montana prior to the end of the week.

More than a foot of snow piled up over the Arizona mountains during Thursday night. Bellemont, Arizona, near Flagstaff, received 4 inches of snow in one hour. Multiple tornado warnings were issued early Friday morning in central Arizona.

On Friday afternoon, three children were declared missing after a vehicle was swept down Tonto Creek in Tonto Basin, Arizona. Two of the children have been found dead, and the search continues for the third child.

A second storm is forecast to follow into the weekend, bringing more rain to the lower elevations of California, while unloading snow over the mountains. Some of the Sierra Nevada region could see feet of snow pile up in the higher elevations.

Combined, these two storms are expected to extinguish the fall fire season across California but also a start to a potentially wet winter.