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Fresh Storm on Way : Revelers Will Ring In New Year on a Chilly, Clear Note

Times Staff Writer

When the mercury began dipping below 50 degrees last week, San Diegans shrugged a collective shoulder and snuggled deeper into their winter woolens, smugly confident that this unseasonal cold snap couldn’t last.

They were wrong.

New Years Day on Sunday will not ring in with much respite from the marrow-chilling, lip-chapping weather that has pinched the area, the National Weather Service reported. Although there will be slight daytime warming starting today, nights will continue to be bitingly cold and a fresh storm is expected to bring rain Saturday.

Ideal for Football

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The cold snap makes for ideal football weather, however, and the Wyoming and Oklahoma football teams can expect 55-degree temperature at the 5 p.m. kickoff time for tonight’s Holiday Bowl game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. When the final seconds tick off, the thermometer probably will have slipped into the upper 40s.

“Friday will be the warmest day this week--60 degrees--with a lot of sunshine,” said forecaster Wilbur Shigehara. “It’s going to be great for the Holiday Bowl. Our midwinter weather is comparable to the fall weather in Wyoming and Oklahoma, so these football players will feel right at home.”

By Saturday, a storm originating from the Gulf of Alaska will bring a 30% chance of rain and the likelihood of lingering showers through New Year’s morning, Shigehara said. Partly cloudy skies--accompanied by temperatures in the 30s inland and 40s along the coast--will ring in 1989.

Cold Over Large Area

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“We are just part of a massive area of very cold temperatures,” Shigehara said. The region is on the western edge of an enormous cold front that has been gripping the nation for two weeks, he said.

“The reason for this cold snap is that storms are originating from the highest portion of the Gulf of Alaska,” he said. “High-level winds are blowing the cold straight down the coast. . . . The cold is making a beeline right into San Diego. Normally, the cold air goes into Nevada first then trickles in here.”

Shigehara said there is “marginal concern” for local farmers battling the cold, as low temperatures will still be in the manageable range.

Had Freeze Warning

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“Avocados get ruined at 27 and 28 degrees, and oranges get frozen at about 26 degrees,” Shigehara said. “But the growers can handle this with forewarning. We had a freeze warning for Wednesday night and Thursday morning, where we expected it to get under 23 degrees. But it didn’t materialize.”

Shigehara said growers were spared damaging frost by a light Santa Ana wind that was “gentle enough to move tree branches and mix the air,” keeping temperatures from plunging to dangerous levels.

For the weekend, daytime highs for the coastal strip and inland areas are expected to range from 60 to 65 degrees. Beach highs for the New Year weekend are expected to be slightly cooler, from 55 to 60.

Overnight Lows

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Overnight lows for the coast will be in the 40s, Shigehara said. Inland lows will be in the 30s, possibly dipping into the mid-20s for the colder agricultural areas such as Escondido, Bonsall and Pauma Valley.

Mountain highs for the weekend will be in the mid-30s, with overnight lows in the upper-20s, Shigehara said. Snow is expected to fall at 3,000-feet Saturday.

The ocean water temperature is 56 degrees. Surf is at 2 to 4 feet.


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