Meteorologists, predicting warmer weather for today and Friday, are tracking another arctic cold front that they say could roll into Orange County late Saturday, possibly bringing with it more frigid nighttime temperatures and a slight chance of showers.
"It's going to be pretty much like the one that just left," said Marty McKewon, a meteorologist with WeatherData, which supplies forecasts for The Times. "The air will be straight out of the North Pole, moving from north to south, dipping down across Southern California."
By Monday, according to the National Weather Service, nighttime lows could dip down into the 20s. The new weather front was described as "big time cold" for Orange County. Growers should be on alert over the weekend and into next week, a spokesman at the Weather Service said.
The Southland is just beginning to thaw out from the coldest temperatures in decades that sent Orange County growers scrambling to minimize crop damage from frost and claimed the life of at least one person.
In Orange County, Anaheim hit a high of 68 degrees Wednesday, while Santa Ana and El Toro both recorded a mid-day reading of 66 degrees. San Juan Capistrano had a high of 63 and Newport Beach hit 59 degrees. "It is warmer. Not by much, but a little," said Sgt. Dean Cordell, of the Harbor Patrol in Newport Harbor. "Today (Wednesday) was sunny and warm. It was real pretty."
But last weekend, cold winds battered the Harbor Patrol officers, he said.
"It's difficult out there for the guys there in the boats," he said. "You get pretty cold. What do you do to stay warm? You just put on another jacket.
"Actually, the colder weather kept the boating traffic down. We were very fortunate, though, that we didn't have any problems during the cold weather. If we'd had a capsizing or something, it would've been really tough in the cold."
Lt. Andrew Hall of the Westminster Police Department said: "The guys on the overnight shift said it was still pretty cold out there. . . . I notice they're all wearing their thermals underneath their uniforms to stay warm."
McKewon said that daytime temperatures in Orange County would be in the 60s today and reach the low to mid-70s by Friday. But that, he said, will change Saturday when a strong cold front will move into Southern California. The highs Sunday could be in the low 50s, 10 degrees lower than the highs Saturday. The low could be in the mid-40s Sunday morning and could drop even lower on Monday as the front moves through the county.
"It will be a repeat performance of last weekend and earlier this week," he said. "It will be about as cold. Monday morning you could see freezing in Orange County."
The National Weather Service predicted that the temperatures could dip into the 20s as the cold front hits most of California.
On Monday San Juan Capistrano posted a county low of 27 degrees. It was a mere degree higher than the unofficial county record of 26 degrees set on Dec. 23, 1930, in Tustin, according to local historians.
The low temperatures brought with them scattered reports of burst water pipes. National Guard armories in Fullerton and Santa Ana were open, providing food and shelter for more than 200 homeless people a night.
Those armories were expected to be packed again next weekend if the cold front moves through Orange County as expected.