Button up -- even colder weather today

Times Staff Writers

Saturday morning, dozens of runners jogged along the Venice boardwalk, as they do every week in preparation for the Los Angeles Marathon. A number of them, seemingly unfazed by the nippy offshore wind, were decked out in shorts and T-shirts. One, however, wore thick wool mittens.

Asked whether he was cold, he shouted: "It's starting to warm up. We're almost at six miles."

Winter finally arrived in Southern California with a vengeance, as an Arctic cold front swept into the region, dropping the temperature Saturday to record lows of 12 degrees in Paso Robles and 6 at Lake Arrowhead. A reading of 2 degrees below zero at Big Bear Lake broke a 44-year record for the date.

Chilly temperatures spread throughout the region: Downtown Los Angeles and Laguna Beach both hit 39 degrees; Agoura Hills fell to 23 degrees and Lancaster to 7. This morning was expected to be even colder. Some forecasters were predicting a low of 38 downtown, while the National Weather Service said the temperature there could fall to 35, breaking the record low of 37 for the date set in 1932.

Lows were expected to be in the 30s in much of the Los Angeles Basin and the 20s in parts of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Temperatures in the Antelope Valley could be as low as 6 degrees.

Friday night, nearly 900 people throughout the state sought shelter in 18 National Guard armories opened as so-called warming centers. Armories in West L.A., Glendale and Culver City each sheltered more than 100 people, but others in Orange County and Ventura attracted no one. All were expected to stay open through Monday morning.

In the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, missions added cots in lobbies and dining rooms to accommodate more homeless people.

Los Angeles Mission offered 30 additional beds, bringing to 180 the number of people it could feed and shelter, said Capt. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department. Officers have been instructed to offer to drive people to shelters, but many homeless people "are shelter-resistant," he said.

In late December, police distributed "comfort backpacks," which included hats, blankets, gloves and other cold-weather items. No cold-related injuries or deaths had been reported, Smith said.

For skiers, the cold front brought a blanket of new snow. At 11 a.m. Saturday, the slopes at Mammoth Mountain were busy, despite the 4-degree temperature, "just because the snow is so good," said Lauren Franklin, a marketing coordinator. Still, she added, "I've never felt cold like this, not in Mammoth, ever."

Big Bear Mountain Resorts had "the best conditions of the year," said spokesman Marty Ward, with up to 8 inches of fresh powder that was "much drier and lighter than normal."

"It's bluebird skies right now," Ward said shortly after noon, when it was about 15 degrees. "You couldn't really ask for much more."

martha.groves@latimes.com

ron.lin@latimes.com

Times staff writer Robert Lopez contributed to this report.

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