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Breaks in storm let Southland enjoy the sunshine

Another system is expected to bring more rain from tonight through Monday. Fresh snow creates ideal conditions for skiers and snowboarders in Southland mountains.

February 08, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

Southern Californians took advantage of breaks in the wet weather Saturday to enjoy the outdoors before rainfall begins again and continues off and on through Monday.

At Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, a fresh blanket of powdery snow fell shortly before sunrise, creating one of the best days of the season for skiers and snowboarders, who were carving up the runs under sunny to partly cloudy skies.

"We are having an amazing day," said resort spokeswoman Laura Johnson. "Conditions on the hill are excellent."

As of Saturday morning, the San Bernardino County resort, ranging from 6,000 to 8,200 feet in elevation, had been blanketed by 12 to 16 inches of snow since the day before, Johnson said. The fresh powder arrived just in time for a major snowboard competition, featuring 70 competitors battling it out for a $25,000 cash prize.

The storm, generated in the Gulf of Alaska, brought snowfall levels down to 4,500 feet.

The weather also created havoc on area freeways. Officers from the California Highway Patrol's Los Angeles center said they handled 260 accidents from midnight to 8 a.m. Saturday, compared with 85 in the same period a week earlier, when the weather dry.

At Venice Beach, meanwhile, about 100 joggers took advantage of partly cloudy skies early Saturday morning to take their weekly run as they train for the Los Angeles Marathon. In Long Beach, at least three waterspouts were sighted off the coast.

As of Saturday morning, the storms that began Thursday night had dropped 1.48 inches of precipitation in downtown Los Angeles and 5 to 7 inches in the San Gabriel Mountains, said Andy Snyder, a meteorologist with Weather Central Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times.

Still, the Los Angeles area is 2 to 3 inches below its normal rainfall totals so far this year, he said.

Snyder said showers and a few thundershowers were expected to continue through early this morning, giving way to partly cloudy skies during the day.

Another storm from Alaska is expected to move into the area tonight and continue dropping rain during the day Monday, Snyder said. "That will be a quick mover. It will be out of there by Monday night," he said.

The CHP urged motorists to drive slower on the rain-slick highways.

"We're seeing a lot of vehicles in collisions," CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos said Saturday. "A lot of those can be attributed to driving too fast for the wet roadway."

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

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