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Ardent Shoppers Didn’t Bargain for Rain, Traffic Snarls

Times Staff Writers

The wrath of a post-holiday storm that led to devilish driving conditions for many shoppers early Friday was reduced to a memory by late afternoon.

The storm’s ferocious winds also created the high waves that pushed an unidentified man from the deck of a sailboat.

He was rescued eight miles off the Oceanside coastline, a Coast Guard spokesman reported.

Thousands of commuters and shoppers embarking on the traditional start of the holiday shopping season found themselves in traffic snarls caused by some 80 minor traffic accidents that occurred across the county, the California Highway Patrol reported. Fifteen people suffered injuries serious enough to require treatment at hospitals.

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“It’s been just as bad or worse than the first rainy day of the season,” said CHP spokesman John Clark. “It’s the first big shopping day of the season and everybody is out shopping.”

Oceanside police reported six storm-related traffic accidents by noon Friday.

“A lot of people are out shopping today,” Sgt. Bill Kruglevich said. “They all say the same thing--that they didn’t know going too fast would make their cars slide.”

The storm also triggered several power failures in the county. The largest outage occurred at 11 a.m. and affected about 3,900 customers in San Ysidro, said Everett Langlis, a spokesman for San Diego Gas & Electric. Brief outages were also reported in Lemon Grove and La Jolla, he said.

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Shoppers and shopkeepers at Seaport Village were left in the dark for about four hours because of a rain-related outage. SDG&E; crews restored power there by 1:20 p.m., Langlis said.

The storm dropped .82 of an inch of rain at Lindbergh Field, bringing the rainfall total for the weather season that started July 1 to 1.38 inches, just 0.16 of an inch shy of the norm for the date.

The greatest amount of rainfall recorded in the county Friday was 1.45 inches at Julian. Other county rainfall totals for the 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Friday included Oceanside, 1.02; National City, 1.00; Escondido, .90; Del Mar and Coronado, .80; Lemon Grove, .78, and Santee, .49.

But by noon most of the heavy rain had stopped, yielding to a clearing trend that should continue through the weekend, said a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

“We were looking for a 20% chance of rain Friday, but the system just intensified, picked up colder air and moved it farther south,” said forecaster Richard Stitt of the National Weather Service. “It’s slacking off now, and it should continue to clear. We’re still looking for a Santa Ana condition this Sunday.”

The storm front that originated in the Gulf of Alaska passed through the county on its way to the southern Rockies, Stitt said.

Partly cloudy skies, some fog and gusty winds will linger this morning, gradually decreasing during the day, he said.


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