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Southland Chill Eases but the Forecast Includes Rain

December 15, 1987|STEVE HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

Well, at least there isn't any smog.

But no sooner had the frigid Arctic winds begun to die Monday than a new rainstorm prepared to pounce on Southern California.

"Look for heavy showers both in the basin and in the mountains (tonight), and the showers could continue all day Wednesday," said meteorologist Pat Cooper of WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times. "You have a little low-pressure system sitting off the coast. And you may get some snow in the mountains to the north of you, like Mt. Wilson."

Wet, Getting Wetter

It could be a wet week for Los Angeles in an already-wet year (4.69 inches, compared to 3.99 last season and a normal of 3.23 inches).

The skies are expected to clear Thursday but, the National Weather Service said, there's "a slight chance" of more showers Saturday.

The weather service had some problems Monday--but not of the wind-whipped kind.

"We had computer problems," said meteorologist George McKillop. "We're estimating that it got up to 61 degrees Monday, with a low of 42" at the Civic Center.

The winds that had whipped across Southern California slowed down to 20 to 30 m.p.h. Monday after weekend highs of 80 m.p.h. in San Bernardino County and 60 m.p.h. in Orange County and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Two men were rescued from Mt. San Gorgonio early Monday after being buffeted by fierce winds since Saturday, said Jim Bryant, a San Bernardino County sheriff's spokesman. A third companion managed to hike out and summon help. The three suffered minor frostbite.

Forecasters predicted that the cold Canadian weather system that has brought shivers to California since Saturday would weaken today, but lows in the 30s were still forecast for the San Joaquin Valley, the state's main agricultural region, and northern San Diego County.

Bill Hutchings worked through Sunday night and the cold early hours Monday to protect more than 700 avocado and citrus trees he maintains in northern San Diego County's Pauma Valley. And he braced for more freezing weather.

"You don't want to ever take a chance because there's no going back once the fruit freezes," Hutchings said.

Warren Currier, executive secretary of the Avocado Growers Assn., estimated that 2% of Southern California's incoming avocado crop was lost because of the heavy winds, but that some individual growers lost more than half of their groves to wind damage.

In Fallbrook, grower Joel Darwin East said that at least 80% of the fruit on his 500 avocado trees was stripped off by the wind and 13 trees were uprooted. He said the fallen fruit was probably too immature to salvage.

Many farmers around the state remained in the orchards through the early morning hours Monday to operate the wind machines that help to keep temperatures up in the groves.

"It was real marginal, got real close, but overall with the temperatures we had and the protection that was put out, we don't think there was any serious damage," said Clyde Churchill, Tulare County agricultural commissioner in the San Joaquin Valley.

Experts say fruit is threatened if temperatures fall to 26 degrees or less and stay there for five or more hours, causing the inside of the fruit to freeze.

The Monday morning low of 37 at Lindbergh Field in San Diego tied for the second-coldest Dec. 14 on record there, the weather service said.

Strong winds over the weekend were blamed for the death of an elderly woman in La Mesa. A 100-foot eucalyptus tree fell on a pickup truck, killing a passenger, Dortha Miller, 80.

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