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New Alaskan Storm Blusters Into County With More Rain and Snow : Weather: The county hasn’t received so much precipitation in one month since 1978. Temperatures could plummet into the 20s inland.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rain, snow and gusty winds whipped through Ventura County Tuesday, and a frost warning was issued for tonight as a storm from the Gulf of Alaska continued to blanket the area.

The wintry onslaught is expected to dissipate late today or tomorrow--but more could be on its way.

“We’re all hoping that it will be partly cloudy for Easter, but it looks like another storm could be moving in this weekend,” said Dolores Taylor, senior hydrologist at the county Flood Control District.

The county has not received this much rain in one month since 1978, according to county weather forecasters.

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“It’s been a phenomenal month,” said Terry Schaeffer, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Santa Paula. “Normally, we would have had this much rain over four to six months.”

A mudslide closed all four lanes of California 126 at the Fillmore Fish Hatchery, just east of Fillmore, for about two hours Tuesday, causing traffic to back up and drivers’ tempers to flare, California Highway Patrol officials said.

“We got a lot of annoyed people calling in on their cellular phones,” a CHP dispatcher said.

The highway was closed at 5:50 p.m. and reopened at 8:05 p.m. Flooding and mudslides also closed Central Avenue between Beardsley Road and Rose Avenue near Oxnard, and South Mountain Road from Balcom Canyon Road to San Cayetano Street near Santa Paula.

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The temperatures will continue to be at least 15 degrees below normal--in the mid-50s during the day and the mid-30s at night. The snow line is expected to drop to an unusually low 2,500 feet--down from 4,000 feet Tuesday.

Several inches of snow fell in the county’s mountainous areas late Tuesday afternoon.

According to Schaeffer, the temperature could plummet into the high 20s in the inland areas tonight and Thursday morning--spelling bad news for strawberry farmers.

As a result, some farmers were making sure that their wind machines are ready to go in case the temperature drops to a dangerous low.

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“We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” said Mike Conroy, the owner of Western Berry Farm on the Oxnard Plain. “If we’re hit by a freeze, we’ll deal with it here on out.”

Although Tuesday began with sunshine in some areas of the county, by noon scattered showers were reported throughout the area. The storm dropped more than an inch and a half on Santa Paula--where the heaviest rain was reported--bringing its season total to 18.01 inches.

So far this month, 12.6 inches of rain have fallen in the city of Ventura--near the all-time high for one month.

Although farmers say they welcome the rain, at least one grower says he’s getting tired of it.

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“We need some sunshine,” said Joe Doud, a supervisor at the Bob Jones strawberry ranch. “We need the water, of course, but this is getting out of hand.”

“It’s like a double-edged sword,” Conroy said. “Our plants have been revitalized, but if it continues to rain like this in three weeks, it could be disastrous.”

Until Feb. 26, Ventura County was well into one of its driest years on record. But one storm after another has pelted the area with rain.

“I don’t know what they’re going to throw at us next,” Conroy said. “It’s been so up and down this season . . . in any normal year we would think the gods were after us.”

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VENTURA COUNTY RAINFALL

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday

Rainfall Rainfall normal Location Storm total year to date this time of year Ojai 1.02 19.02 18.29 Ventura 1.26 15.31 12.38 Oxnard 0.55 11.98 12.58 Port Hueneme 0.93 10.48 12.12 Camarillo 0.55 9.91 11.56 Thousand Oaks 0.75 12.11 13.14 Simi Valley 0.75 13.91 12.38 Moorpark 0.59 10.37 12.59 Santa Paula 1.54 18.01 15.37 Fillmore 1.46 17.92 16.38


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