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Out of Season : Wet Weather Revisits the Valley, Springtime or Not


After two days of mostly clear skies and cool weather, an unusually late spring storm dropped light rain on the San Fernando Valley Monday, the first showers in more than a month.

"It's kind of late in the season for a fairly large storm to be affecting Southern California," said meteorologist Curtis Brack of WeatherData Inc.

A storm system moving through Point Conception managed to pick up enough moisture to affect the Los Angeles area, dropping .32 inch of rain on the Newhall area and .10 inch on the Civic Center, he said.

The wet weather dropped temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal, he said.

Today's temperature is expected to peak in the high 60s. Brack added that the weather would probably warm up over the next few days.

The National Weather Service predicted a 40% chance of light showers in the San Fernando Valley this morning.

While only a smattering of drizzle hit the Antelope Valley Monday morning and afternoon, there is still a slight chance of showers today.

After being pummeled by nearly triple the normal amount of seasonal rainfall earlier this year, Valley commuters seemed to be well-prepared for the intermittent showers and rain-slick roads.

"It's not like one of those days when we have a real downpour and the number of accidents triples," said California Highway Patrol Officer Rob Lund. "It's pretty quiet, actually." There were, however, a handful of minor rain-related accidents.

Three cars plowed into an empty school bus in a chain-reaction collision at 1:52 p.m. on the eastbound Ventura Freeway near the Woodman off-ramp, said California Highway Patrol Officer Kerrie Hawkins. There were no serious injuries.

Also, a semi-trailer truck jackknifed on the eastbound Ventura Freeway at Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas at about 10:45 a.m., holding up traffic for 45 minutes and causing minor injuries, she said.

One potential traffic disaster was narrowly averted Monday morning when two wayward mallard ducks stopped traffic for about 10 minutes on Canoga Avenue near Califa Street in Woodland Hills, said Maggie Barnett, a Times employee. Barnett and several other drivers succeeded in chasing the waterfowl from the roadway, a kindness the birds owed to their brightly feathered beauty.

"If it had been pigeons in the road, we would have run them down," she said.

At the Thrifty drugstore in Woodland Hills, damp commuters made an early-morning rush on the umbrellas and rain gear still remaining in the store's inventory of wet-weather garb.

They were lucky, however, said manager Alan Kaplan. If it hadn't been for the 27 inches of rain that drenched Woodland Hills this winter, leading the store to stockpile such merchandise, there wouldn't have been any left by this time of year.

By midmorning, as the rain tapered off, so had Kaplan's shower of customers.

Despite threatening skies and a warning from the county Department of Health Services to surfers to stay out of local waters because of bacterial contamination from storm drain runoff, business was booming at Valley Skate & Surf in North Hills.

"We're very busy today," said harried manager Phyllis Fleschler, who was juggling more than a dozen clients. "Remember, we're a surf shop, and the waves are bigger when it rains. And now is the time for people to think about gear because they know it's going to get warmer soon."

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