Storm Blows In Early, Triggers Traffic Accidents

Times Staff Writer

Rain and cold air drifted into Southern California nearly a day earlier than expected Monday, dropping new snow in the mountains and triggering a series of traffic accidents that injured more than 30 people and tied up traffic in several places.

Most of the injuries were said to be minor.

Nineteen Verdugo Hills High School students were hurt when a trash truck went out of control and skidded in the rain into the back of their school bus on the southbound Long Beach Freeway near the Santa Ana Freeway interchange in the City of Commerce.

The California Highway Patrol said the truck first collided with an automobile, pushing it onto the freeway shoulder, and then crashed into the bus. All the injured youngsters, whose ages ranged from 14 to 17 years, were taken to County-USC Medical Center, treated for minor injuries and released. No one else was injured in the accident, the CHP said.

RTD Bus Passengers Hurt

Five people were treated at County-USC Medical Center for injuries sustained when the RTD bus in which they were riding skidded while trying to stop on rain-splashed pavement shortly after noon Monday and slammed into a utility pole near Elysian Park. A hospital spokesman said the five were in good condition.

Six other passengers were released after being treated for less serious injuries at the scene of the accident, in the 1000 block of North Broadway.

The driver of a semi-trailer truck was hurt when his rig jackknifed on wet pavement and overturned on the San Diego Freeway near La Tijera Boulevard in Inglewood.

He was taken to Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, where he was reported in good condition. The accident spilled a small amount of diesel fuel, blocking two northbound lanes of the freeway for more than an hour.

The driver of a van and his two passengers were injured when their vehicle went out of control and overturned on rain-slick Hacienda Boulevard near Glenmark Drive in Hacienda Heights.

The three men were reported in good condition at Queen of the Valley Hospital, where they were being treated for neck and back injuries.

The National Weather Service said Monday's rainstorm, while not a complete surprise, arrived here nearly a day before it had been expected.

Meteorologists said that a high pressure area lodged off the Washington coast was forcing the Arctic storm track farther inland than usual and allowing the cold front to contact the moist tropical air mass that had been southwest of San Diego.

The high temperature at Los Angeles Civic Center on Monday was 54 degrees, with relative humidity ranging from 47% to 86%.

By late afternoon, .44 of an inch of rain had fallen downtown, bringing the season's total to 8.35 inches--somewhat above the 7.75 inches that would be normal and a little more than an inch below the 9.45 inches that had fallen by this time last year.

Other rainfall through late afternoon included .92 of an inch at Mt. Wilson, .47 at Northridge, .44 at Montebello, .41 in Woodland Hills, .35 at Santa Ana and Santa Monica, .33 at San Gabriel, and .32 at Riverside.

The weather service issued a traveler's advisory warning of blowing and drifting snow overnight in mountain areas above 3,000 feet. Up to a foot of new snow could accumulate in some areas by noon today, forecasters said, though most of the storm activity was expected to end by midnight.

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