Cold Blast, Freeze Head for California, Arizona

By , Senior Meteorologist
January 12, 2013; 5:10 AM ET
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The arctic plunge anticipated last week is aiming for the West first and is driving into the Southwest Friday night.

According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "The coldest air of the season will settle over much of California into Saturday."

Temperatures could dip to within a few degrees of the lowest levels reached during all of the prior winter.

Many of the lower elevations in California will have highs ranging from the upper 40s to the middle 50s. Throw in wind and other atmospheric conditions and RealFeel® temperatures will be about 20 degrees lower, ranging from the upper 20s to the middle 30s.

Conditions will be much colder in the upper deserts and the mountains.

Winds will diminish Friday night, paving the way for frost and freeze in many locations.

"Some of the valleys in Southern California will dip a little below freezing, but a hard freeze is likely in parts of Ventura and inland Santa Barbara counties," Clark said.

Clark added that while there has been a frost and freeze already over parts of interior Southern California already this season, temperatures in the coldest areas of these counties could be below 28 degrees for several hours during this event.

Much of California will struggle to warm Saturday.

"With clear skies and light winds, Saturday night could be almost as cold as Friday night," Clark stated.

A few daily low temperature records could be challenged Saturday and Sunday morning. ( image and thumbnail)

The initial push of cold air brought some snow to the Sierra Nevada, but not an exceptional amount.

Enough snow accompanied by plunging temperatures caused slow travel for at time along I-80 over Donner Pass and I-5 through the Siskiyou Mountains.

Slippery travel occurred over the Grapevine and other routes that venture over the mountain passes as snow levels dipped to as low as 2,000 feet.

While the cold push brought only a relatively small amount of snow to the Sierra Nevada and the southern Cascades and a light coating to some of the other ranges in the state, it has helped to spin up more of a storm and heavier snow farther inland over the West into Friday and the northern Plains this weekend.


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