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More rain, snow forecast tonight and tomorrow

By Jeff Stahl, KESQ News Channel 3 Morning News Anchor, jstahl@kesq.com
Published On: Dec 17 2012 08:31:57 AM CST
Coachella valley freeway interstate rain storm windy
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -

Light rain fell around Riverside County early today but heavier downpours were likely tonight through Tuesday because of a strong, fast-moving cold front, forecasters said.

The low desert areas around Palm Springs were expected to see only light amounts of precipitation.  First Alert forecaster Jerry Steffen predicted zero to .05 of an inch of precipitation on the valley floor by Tuesday.  Snow levels  above 5000 feet could see 2 to 6 inches of snowfall by Wednesday morning.

"A cold front will sweep through the area with moderate to locally heavy rain and mountain snow (Monday night through Tuesday)," according to an National Weather Service advisory.

Rainfall totals from the cold front were expected to be up to three-quarters of an inch at lower elevations, and up to an inch-and-a-half in the mountains. The snow fall level will fall to around 4,500 feet during the day Tuesday, with two to six inches of snowfall possible above 5,000 feet, according to the Weather Service.

Afternoon temperatures on Tuesday were expected to be mainly in the 50s at lower elevations, 30s and 40s in the mountains and in the 60s in the deserts. Also expected were strong winds.

"Strong and gusty southwest to west winds are expected on Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night ... in the mountains and in the deserts," according to the Weather Service. "The combination of slippery roads, limited visibility and strong, gusty winds will make travel in the mountains hazardous.

"Hikers and campers in the mountains should be prepared for winter weather," NWS forecasters said.

Sustained winds throughout the region Tuesday were expected to be 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts up to 55 mph in the mountains and deserts, and 30 to 35 mph gusts possible in the Inland Empire.