Brief Storm Front Brings Snow, Rain, Death

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A forceful, but fleeting, storm front pushed through Southern California on Sunday, dumping sorely needed rain, dusting nearby mountains with snow and causing at least one death when a man was swept down a rain-swollen storm channel in Glendale.

The victim was Young Woo Kang, a 39-year-old Korean citizen who, based on identification papers found on him, was visiting the United States, Glendale police said.

By late Sunday, police had not determined why Kang was in the 75-yard wide Verdugo-Arroyo flood control channel, which feeds into the Los Angeles River.

When workers at a Glendale municipal power plant saw the victim about 7:40 a.m., he appeared to be standing in the storm channel, Sgt. Ricardo Jauregui said.

"The water was raging," he said. "It was at the height of the storm."

Witnesses said that, moments after the first sighting, they saw the victim floundering in the swift, 4- to-6-foot-deep current. The man disappeared during the 10 minutes it took police and Fire Department rescue teams to respond, Jauregui said.

Rescuers saw him when he emerged tangled in brush, face down in the current. Kang was dragged unconscious from the water about 8 a.m. and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

At about noon, as police investigators looked for clues to how and why Kang ended up in the channel, police received reports of a second man in the river bed, Jauregui said.

"An investigator radioed in and said, 'Hey sergeant, we have another one in the river,' " Jauregui said. "I thought she was kidding.

"He was just some errant citizen who thought it would be nice to walk in the water. Considering the danger, and the fact that we lose people in the flood channels every year, I was very surprised to see him. He told us he just wanted to look at the water" in the middle of thigh-level current.

Firefighters threw a rope to the man, who then scaled the wall of the channel in the Griffith Park area near the Los Angeles Zoo, Jauregui said, adding that "the man was counseled as to the dangers of walking in the flooded river bed and sent on his way. He seemed appreciative."

The storm that "screamed through and dumped snow in the mountains and rain all over Southern California" was blown east by midday, said Bill Hibbert, a meteorologist at WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times.

Heavy snowfall--including 10 inches in the Tehachapis--was reported in most local mountain areas above the 4,000-foot level, with lesser amounts reported down to the 2,500-foot level, Hibbert said.

The storm also brought .61 of an inch of rain to the Los Angeles Civic Center, bringing the season's rainfall to 2.92 inches--16 inches shy of the mark needed to break the drought that has afflicted the Southland for more than three years, said WeatherData forecaster Mike Smith.

Other Southland rainfall figures included: Anaheim and Northridge, .83 of an inch; Newhall, .64; Woodland Hills, .52; Santa Barbara, .47; Beaumont, .45; Los Angeles International Airport, .32; San Diego, .25, and Avalon, .09.

A record low high temperature of 47 degrees was reached Sunday in Riverside, breaking the old mark of 51 degrees set in 1985.

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