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BRAVING THE ELEMENTS Winter storm flirts with arrival of spring WEATHER: Wind, rain, snow interrupt weekend.

Byline: Troy Anderson, Staff Writer

Though spring officially started Friday, a chilly rain- and snowstorm swept through Southern California on Sunday with winds gusting up to nearly 70 miles an hour, toppling power lines and causing outages in some parts of Los Angeles County.

The high winds knocked out power to about 800 people in the San Gabriel Valley and a total of 9,500 people throughout the Southland, Southern California Edison spokesman Paul Klein said. In Canoga Park, nearly 100 people lost power.

"When the winds start blowing like this, we get damage all over the system," Klein said. "Edison crews are working as quickly as possible to restore power."

The cold, low-pressure system from Northern California moved into the Southland early Sunday, bringing rain to the valleys, snow to the mountains and high winds, especially in the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, said Jamie Meier, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

"It brought widespread graupel, which is kind of an ice pellet," Meier said. "It's not quite snow, but it's not quite hail. It's indicative of a very cold, unstable type of storm."

The rainfall totals by midday were generally less than a tenth of an inch, although an automated rain gauge in the mountains northeast of the San Fernando Valley measured .83 inches of rain. The rain and snow had stopped by early afternoon, but the high winds picked up afterwards, Meier said.

"There is still the possibility of snow on the Grapevine (late Sunday night) and the rest of the county," Meier said. "And we're expecting gusts up to 70 miles per hour in the Antelope Valley and up to 55 miles per hour in the valleys. We have a high-wind warning in the mountains."

The cold winter storm coincided with a tripling in the number of crashes in Los Angeles County. From 3 a.m. to 2 p.m., the number of collisions in the county increased to 556 on Sunday compared to 169 a week ago for the same time period, California Highway Patrol Officer Jose Nunez said. No serious injuries were reported.

"We had a rash of accidents this morning," Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman d'Lisa Davies said. "We've had several reports of high tension wires down. Those carry the higher voltages."

The high winds also sparked six small electrical transformer fires in the Valley, West Los Angeles and San Pedro areas, Davies said.

"Some started small outside fires, but they were quickly knocked down," Davies said.

The storm is expected to move out of the area today.

The forecast calls for clear skies, calmer winds and highs in the mid-60s. The temperatures should warm throughout the week with highs in the upper-70s this weekend, Meier said.

troy.anderson@dailynews.com

213-974-8985

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Griffin Welch, 5, of Long Beach and his older sister, Maggie, 7, play with their dogs, Eve and S'more, at Belmont Shore Beach within the Dog Zone in Long Beach. Small groups of dog owners and their companions braved the cold, windy weather just after the rain clouds moved inland Sunday morning.

Diandra Jay/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 23, 2009
Words:522
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