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Winds Likely to Send Showers and Cold Away

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Times Staff Writer

There were no reports of snow in Orange County Saturday but winter made its presence felt in other ways, drawing the homeless to special shelters, causing homeowners to scramble to cover gardens and fruit growers to protect crops.

The snow level was expected to drop to 2,000 feet overnight as a weak weather disturbance moved through Southern California, bringing a second night of rain--and possibly snow showers in some areas --and freezing temperatures to wind-sheltered valleys.

A spokesman for WeatherData Inc., the private weather service that provides forecasts for The Times, said the showers and cold should move out of the area today as the skies clear and winds increase. Gusts near the canyons could reach 25 m.p.h.

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Freezing Temperatures

Temperatures Saturday night in valleys sheltered from the winds were expected to drop into the high 20s or low 30s, meaning fruit crops in those areas faced frost dangers. Areas of calm winds record lower temperatures than those with stiffer breezes.

The low temperature in San Juan Capistrano reached 25 degrees Saturday morning, while San Clemente recorded a low of 28, Santa Ana a low of 33 and El Toro a low of 32.

Snowflakes were sighted in a number of Los Angeles County communities Saturday morning, including Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys. However, they disappeared as they touched the ground. No snow was recorded in downtown Los Angeles, which saw its last flurries in 1949. The low temperature early Saturday at the Los Angeles Civic Center was 35 degrees, the coldest morning so far this winter.

The homeless flocked to special shelters in Santa Ana, Fullerton and Mission Viejo to escape the freezing temperatures and find a warm meal.

County Churches Shelter Homeless

More than 100 homeless spent the night at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, while about 60 packed the First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton. Shelter for about 50 people was also provided at the Shepherd of the Hill United Methodist Church in Mission Viejo, said Susan Oakson of the Orange County Homeless Issues Task Force.

The churches offered their facilities as shelters because the National Guard armories in Santa Ana and Fullerton that are normally used were unavailable.

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“We are very grateful and thankful to these communities who have offered to help. They have just been wonderful in rising to the cause,” Oakson said. “The county provided us with blankets and towels from the armories and we got cots from the Red Cross. We are really pleased with the cooperation and partnerships we have been able to forge.”

Homeless shelters were opened throughout the weekend at the Downey, Central, Elysian Park and Elysian Valley recreation centers. Shelter also was available at the National Guard armories in Van Nuys and West Los Angeles. There was no estimate of how many homeless sought temporary housing.

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