Southern California's cold snap continues, but warmer days ahead

A cold snap that broke records in parts of Southern California will soon be thawed by the merciful sun, the National Weather Service said Friday.

For two nights, residents from Los Angeles County to San Diego County have chilled under a windy, cold air mass that's pushed temperatures below freezing and dropped snow onto curvy mountain town roads.


"Right now, I have two layers on and I'm indoors," said meteorologist Todd Hall at the National Weather Service's Oxnard bureau. "Out here at our office, they were lighting the heaters last night. Things were cold."

But relief is in sight, he said.

Over the next few days, the cold air will move southeast toward Arizona and be replaced by a warmer weather system. By Tuesday, it could be sunny and in the 70s in downtown Los Angeles, Hall said.

Since Wednesday, a Canadian storm has moved across Southern California, with strong winds that have toppled big rigs and unmoored boats, and piles of snow that have closed mountain passes and trapped motorists.

On New Year's Day the temperature at Los Angeles International Airport dropped to 36 degrees, breaking the record for the date set in 1972.

In San Diego County, officials Friday were warning about a possible repeat of traffic gridlock as people flocked to Julian to enjoy the snow in a mountain community known for its apple-pie delicacies.

The day before, traffic was at a standstill for miles, backed up to Ramona on Highway 78 and to Interstate 8 on the Sunrise Highway. Parking in Julian was virtually non-existent by early morning Thursday.

The Sheriff's Department recommends that anyone coming to Julian be prepared with a full tank of gas, water and food "in case you are stranded in traffic for hours," said Sgt. Carlos Medina.

Visitors are also asked to stay off private property and be aware that there are few public restrooms in Julian.

On Thursday, the California Highway Patrol reported 20 vehicle collisions in snow-covered roads in the area. In other parts of San Diego and Riverside counties, new record-lows were reached in Ramona and Thermal, where temperatures plummeted to 25 and 21 degrees, respectively.

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