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Rain, snow, thunderstorms through Southern Calif.

Posted: March 8, 2013 3:10 p.m.
Updated: March 8, 2013 3:10 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A late-season wintry blast rumbled through Southern California on Friday, unleashing snow, rain, hail and lightning bolts as the sun played hide-and-seek in an alternately gray and bright blue sky.

Treacherous conditions forced the California Highway Patrol to close vital Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles for nearly six hours.

Trucks and other vehicles backed up for miles waiting for weather to improve enough for traffic to flow safely over Tejon Pass, which rises to an elevation of more than 4,100 feet in the Tehachapi Mountains.

Los Angeles' backdrop of mountains sported a fresh coat of white well down their slopes.

The National Weather Service said that by late morning, 6 inches to 10 inches of snow had accumulated at elevations above 5,000 feet, with lighter accumulations down to 3,000 feet.

With less than two weeks to go before spring, snowplows, shovels and chains were in demand in mountain communities to the east of Los Angeles, where ski resorts were getting fresh coverage just in time for weekend crowds.

Several school districts, including Julian and Mountain Empire, were closed.

The NWS said the cold low-pressure system was expected to bring low mountain snow, isolated thunderstorms and numerous rain showers through late afternoon, followed by isolated showers east of the region during the night and early Saturday.

Despite traffic accidents and other problems, the precipitation was welcome in unusually dry Southern California. As of Thursday night, the downtown Los Angeles rainfall tally was more than 7 inches below normal for the rain-year that began on July 1.

Forecasters said building high pressure and a light offshore flow of air would bring a warming trend and clear weather to Southern California during the weekend and into the middle of next week.


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