A brief but energetic cold front blew through Southern California on Sunday, leaving up to a half-foot of snow on local mountains and injuring 15 people when a wave broke a window on a Catalina cruise vessel.
The storm forced cancellation of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in rural San Bernardino County, sending visitors at the open-air event running for their cars to get away from the wind, rain and pea-sized hail.
"The storm was obviously very vigorous, but not very large as far as area covered," said John Henderson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "We had very strong winds but we didn't get a lot of precipitation."
The gusts, reported at speeds of up to 50 m.p.h., kicked up 6-to-12-foot swells in the Catalina Channel, where a vessel operated by the Catalina Cruises company lost a port side window about 25 minutes out of Long Beach shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.
Rescue boats met the cruise ship as it returned to Long Beach Harbor, where paramedics treated three passengers for neck and back injuries before taking them and 12 others to St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. The 12 were treated for minor injuries, including cuts from flying glass. All were released.
A Long Beach Fire Department official said there were several hundred passengers on the ship, which has a capacity of 700.
"They were in pretty rough seas out there and they were hit by a big wave that broke a window," said Petty Officer Billy Williams of the U.S. Coast Guard. "People out there know the weather's bad but that never stopped anybody from getting in a boat and going out there."
Carolyn Carter, spokeswoman for St. Mary Medical Center, said some of those treated complained of back and neck pains.
"A lot of them have symptoms of anxiety, so they're being counseled by our social worker," she said. "They're just upset by the incident."
Representatives of the cruise firm were not available for comment.
High seas tossed ashore a California seal pup that perched atop a parked car near Santa Monica beach until animal control officers could capture it and send it to Sea World for medical treatment, according to lifeguard Lt. Ira Gruber.
The same storm was expected to bring heavy rains to the Midwest by midweek. Another cold front was expected to move through Southern California tonight or Tuesday morning, dropping a tenth of an inch of rain on coastal areas and up to a quarter-inch of precipitation in the mountains.
The weekend precipitation was too slight to be measured at Los Angeles International Airport, but weather spotters called in reports of two inches of snow at Big Bear, three inches at Idyllwild and six inches at Tehachapi.