Blame Alaska: Rare California 'Arctic Blast' Comes From the North | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Blame Alaska: Rare California 'Arctic Blast' Comes From the North

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Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 9:15 AM

click to enlarge Stop getting your snow all up in our happy place, Palin
  • Stop getting your snow all up in our happy place, Palin
We knew California wasn't to blame for this dreadful, borderline-blasphemous cold spell! As usual, we have the northerners to thank for our unhappiness: This crazy-cold polar storm is whistling like an ambush of icicles straight down from eskimolandia.

"We have a very cold storm coming in that originated in Canada," Dessa Emch of the National Weather Service in Oxnard told the Contra Costa Times. "It'll bring some of the lowest snow levels we've seen.

But, technically, NWS forecaster Ryan Kittell tells the Weekly, Alaska is the true instigator:

"It's originating from over the Pacific, in Alaska," he says.

From there, the chilly beast slid down the Aleutian Islands and through British Columbia, passed over Seattle yesterday and is currently leaving behind Oregon for to wreak some havoc on San Francisco.

Kittell is refreshingly annoyed at our probe for "terms media people like to hype up" when it comes to unusual weather patterns, but does one-up the current "polar storm" trend to "arctic blast," which we have used in our headline, just to spite him. Here's to SoCal winter sensationalism!

Some people like to add terminology," he says. "But this is pretty cold -- a little bit colder than we usually get. We'll be approaching record lows Sunday morning."

In other words, in the freaking 40s, with flooding, hailstorms and 50 mph winds. Sounds pretty arctic to us.

Kittell explains that the storm's "frontal band, right in front of its low-pressure center" is over Bay Area right now, and will reach L.A. County by evening. Showers are already starting to pick up, though, and will stick around until Sunday, making for some pretty hilarious weather faux pas on Oscar's red carpet.

There are still those who prefer a dramatic approach, though, via the Contra Costa Times:

Tim Roche, a meteorologist with the Weather Underground in San Francisco, said it's extremely rare to see a Canadian cold front roll across California, accompanied by precipitation.

What's especially different is the wind will blow out of the northeast, out of a continental polar air mass. Add moisture, and the state can expect some of the lowest snow levels in 20 to 30 years.

"For the California coast as a whole, this is a once-in-a-generation event," Roche said.

"Early (Sunday) morning, when the sun just starts to rise, you might see snow showers down to sea level. Griffith Park will probably see snow."

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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