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Southern California's cold snap is expected to break this weekend

Out with the cold, in with the new: Southern California will likely see higher-than-normal temps this weekend

The chilly winter weather that whipped Southern California this week is expected to clear out over the weekend, with temperatures warming to slightly above normal.

After a final bout of freezing temperatures in valley and mountain areas Friday morning, forecasters said a high-pressure system and offshore winds should soon push out the cold weather that brought snow and bitter winds to parts of the region.

"Everybody was freezing," said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service. "Before this week, we were sitting in 70-degree weather. But all of the sudden … we got chilly pretty quick."

While overnight temperatures could remain in the 30s in places such as Burbank, Woodland Hills and downtown L.A., Seto said the warming trend is forecast to begin this weekend. Temperatures were expected to hit the 70s by Sunday, a few degrees warmer than the 67- or 68-degree weather typically seen at this time of year.

Seto said the warmer temperatures were expected to hold through the middle of next week.

Despite the chilling weather that lingered Thursday, the National Weather Service recorded only one record-breaking low temperature in Southern California. It was 36 degrees at Los Angeles International Airport, two degrees colder than the record set in 1972.

And although there were concerns that the Rose Parade in Pasadena could be the coldest in decades — since the city recorded a Jan. 1 temperature of 32 degrees in 1952 — the temperature dropped only to 36 degrees. Still, thousands of people who camped out along the parade route came prepared: Many brought heaters, hand warmers and extra blankets.

As one spectator did jumping jacks along Colorado Boulevard to shake the cold, a woman walked by and laughed.

"This is Boston on a warm day, you wimps," she muttered.

This week's cold front from Canada blasted much of the region. Snow levels dropped and produced unusual sights: floating ice in backyard pools, frozen fountains and snow-dusted palm trees.

In the Inland Empire, dozens of motorists were stranded on snowy highways. In Big Bear, about 8 inches of snow were dumped on the mountains, once-typical winter conditions that have become rare during California's drought.

In Orange County, where two homeless people died in 2012 after temperatures dropped into the 30s, shelters stepped up aid. Temporary overnight shelters saw increased attendance, and workers passed out extra blankets and sleeping bags to those spending the night outdoors.

The cold weather this week was accompanied by rough seas. A Harbor Patrol officer working to secure loose boats at Catalina Island late Tuesday fell in the water and was pinned between a boat and rocks. Two deputies tried to pull him to safety, but were not able to save him. He was identified as Timothy Mitchell, 39, of Avalon, authorities said.

Another body floating in the water was recovered Wednesday morning, also off Catalina. The man was identified as Bruce Ryder, 53, also of Avalon.


Times staff writer Marisa Gerber contributed to this report.

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