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Southland Gripped by High Winds and Near-Freezing Temperatures

Times Staff Writers

Chilly, gale-force winds whipped across Southern California early Monday, toppling a big rig near Fontana, downing tree limbs in Orange County and the Inland Empire and dropping temperatures to near-freezing in some of the coastal valleys.

Forecasters said nights should remain cold for the rest of the week, with lows in the 30s and 40s near the coast, dipping into the teens in the Antelope Valley and mountain areas.

The winds will diminish to about 15 mph today and Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

The cold weather has added urgency to the search for a 64-year-old Chatsworth man, whose family last saw him Thursday before he set out for a hike at Mt. Pinos in Kern County. More than 50 people from five counties have joined the search for Robert Komenda.

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On Monday, gusts of more than 60 mph swept down mountain canyons and across the foothill slopes of Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, scattering trash cans and debris and downing power lines and branches.

A truck carrying an empty container tipped over on the San Bernardino Freeway near the Etiwanda exit, on the Ontario-Fontana border, about 9 a.m., blocking three westbound lanes and backing up traffic for seven miles.

No one was injured, but it took two hours to right the truck and get traffic moving again.

The winds fanned a fire in a 30-foot pile of lawn and tree clippings at a compost firm in Chino.

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Officials said it could take several days to extinguish the stubborn blaze.

In Orange County, fallen tree limbs blocked a transition road between the Garden Grove and Orange freeways, snarling morning traffic for more than an hour.

Forecasters said the north-northeast winds were spawned by air circulating clockwise around a strong ridge of high pressure over the Great Basin. The ridge was expected to weaken and move east as the week progresses.

The nights should stay chilly, but winds will decrease, and daytime temperatures should warm slightly, with top readings in the 50s and 60s in the coastal valleys. Skies should be mostly clear, but forecasters said there was a slight chance of rain Sunday.

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Times staff writer David Reyes in Orange County contributed to this report.


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