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Valley Roundup | Valleywide

Storm Drenches City, Eases Up on Valley

March 06, 2000|JOHNATHON E. BRIGGS

The strongest storm of the year drenched marathoners in central Los Angeles on Sunday but eased up a bit on the San Fernando, Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, with some areas recording less than half of downtown's rain total.

The Los Angeles Civic Center received 1.78 inches between midnight and 4 p.m., said Clint Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. But by late afternoon, Palmdale had received only .74 of an inch, while Chatsworth recorded .98.

"It was spotty," Simpson said. "Some areas were hit hard, others weren't."

The storm soaked the 23,000 participants in the 15th annual Los Angeles Marathon and prompted the precautionary closure of the Sepulveda Dam Basin, which received 1.50 inches of rain. The basin was reopened late in the afternoon.

Originating in the Gulf of Alaska, the chilly storm dropped snow as low as 4,000 feet in the afternoon, with overnight snow levels expected to reach 2,500 feet, forecasters said.

Highs reached only into the mid-40s in Lancaster and Newhall, forecasters said. The weather service issued a winter weather watch through midday today.

Forecasters warned that drivers could expect dangerous conditions on the Golden State Freeway north of the San Fernando Valley, including icy roads and poor visibility. Conditions could "leave cars slipping and sliding on the roads," said Bruce Rockwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The storm pushed the Los Angeles seasonal rainfall total to 9.32 inches, closer to the normal level of 11.41 inches. "We're catching up pretty good," Rockwell said.

Between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, 600 collisions were reported on Southland highways, said California Highway Patrol Officer Frank Sansone.

More showers and isolated thunderstorms were forecast through this morning as forecasters said they expect the rain to taper off. But umbrellas shouldn't be tucked away just yet. Another storm is expected to arrive from the north Pacific by the middle of the week.

"This storm could have been stronger," Simpson said. "We're still not out of danger."

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