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Cold Spell to Ease but New Front Offers Rain

December 28, 1987|VICTOR MERINA and TERRY SPENCER | Times Staff Writers

Another record-tying cold snap sent temperatures plummeting for the second day in a row Sunday as Southern California residents ended their holiday weekend under increasingly cloudy skies.

With a forecast of rain today, a slight warming trend was expected to ease the chilly temperatures that left the area's homeless huddled in shelters, local farmers fearing for their crops and some motorists battling icy road conditions.

In San Diego, Sunday's low temperature was 37 degrees--tying a mark for the date set back in 1926--and only a day after Los Angeles had matched a 106-year-old record for the coldest temperature with a reading of 35 at the Civic Center.

Sunday's low in Los Angeles inched upward to 38, just two degrees above the record low for the date set in 1916.

New Front Arrives

A mass of Canadian air--along with the lack of winds and cloudless skies--was blamed for the bitter cold. But those conditions began to give way Sunday as overcast skies brought the threat of showers from a new cold front moving into Central California.

"We'll have off-and-on showers behind the cold front with mostly cloudy skies, and that cool, damp weather should not taper off until Wednesday," said meteorologist Dan Bowman of WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times.

Snow levels in local mountain areas are expected to range from 4,000 to 5,000 feet today, forecasters said.

Sunday's Civic Center high reached 57, 10 degrees below normal for the date. Relative humidity ranged from 29% to 75%.

Way Below Normal

While daytime temperatures should reach the upper 50s today in the Los Angeles area, the forecast of light winds and added cloud cover will keep nighttime temperatures warmer than they have been in the recent cold snap, Bowman said.

Los Angeles city and county officials said the weekend chill resulted in more than 1,000 homeless individuals and their families seeking assistance Saturday night in city and county shelters. But none of the California National Guard armories, which stood ready to accept overflow crowds, was needed, said Donna Dunn, countywide homeless coordinator.

Bob Vilmur, homeless coordinator for Los Angeles city, said that nearly 200 people found shelter in four city recreation centers Saturday night, including a large contingent in Elysian Park. But he added that, even with a warming trend expected, the prospects of a rainstorm poses a new threat for the homeless.

"We're obviously concerned about the chill factor, so we are very carefully monitoring the possibility of a rainstorm," Vilmur said.

The lingering cold was blamed for minor traffic accidents early Sunday in the Malibu Canyon area when two cars skidded on ice and went over the side of Las Virgenes Road. Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Pitt Gilmore said no one was injured in the accidents and blamed the icy conditions on water from a pipe that burst from the cold. The California Highway Patrol temporarily closed a section of the road because of the treacherous conditions, he added.

While temperatures in San Diego tied the 37-degree record at Lindbergh Field, a freeze warning in effect for agricultural areas was rescinded for Sunday night and Monday morning. However, some farmers were concerned that the persistent cold may already have damaged local crops including citrus and avocado trees.

"It really takes a week or even 10 days after the freeze to assess the damage, but there is no doubt that there was significant damage," said Bob Vice, who lives in Valley Center about 45 miles north of San Diego.

While some saw their livelihoods threatened by the winter chill, other businesses found the weekend weather advantageous, including ski resorts and tanning salons.

At the Norwalk Ice Rink, owner Tarius Madjzoub said Sunday his business was brisk despite the cold weather.

"I don't understand it. When it is hot, the people go to the beach and burn themselves when it is pleasant in the ice rinks. When it is really miserable cold, they come to the ice rink," he said.

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