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UPDATED: Santa passes through; SCV gets gift of more wintry weather

'Low-flying UFO' gets police escort, arrives safely home at North Pole

Posted: December 24, 2008 12:20 p.m.
Updated: December 24, 2008 12:57 p.m.
 

Wednesday's forecast called for gusty winds, heavy rain and hail that put travelers on alert but did not deter Santa Claus as he made his rounds through the Santa Clarita Valley on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning, NORAD, the the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada, reported Santa and his sleigh were safely back home at the North Pole after he delivered toys to kids and families around the world.

"Santa definitely makes all his deliveries," said Sara Wood, NORAD spokeswoman, on Christmas Eve. "He doesn't have trouble with the weather because he has Rudolph who helps him through the tough spots."

Locally, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies received an anonymous tip Wednesday providing fresh clues in an investigation that went cold Dec. 25, 2007, said Lt. Mark Hershey.

"We got some information about a low-flying aircraft and an elderly man," he said.

Hershey described the suspect as a portly elderly man with a white beard. The man wore a red suit with trim to match his beard.

Reports the man was flying around in a sleigh packed with Christmas gifts were initially unsubstantiated, then confirmed by detectives. 

Hershey promised harsh repercussions if the man was caught with contraband.

"If he has any products in that sleigh, there'd better be receipts," Hershey said.

Deputies later spotted a low-flying object in the sky matching that description around midnight, he said.

Cold, wet, gusty weather notwithstanding, the station dispatched a helicopter to intercept the UFO. Flying alongside it, the chopper pilot and observer described it as a very large, reindeer-powered sleigh driven by a larger-than-life white-bearded character in a red suit.

They contacted the driver by radio, and confirmed the man was indeed Santa Claus, longtime resident of the North Pole.

Since Claus' vehicle displayed an international "License to Give" sticker, and he declared all the products in his vehicle were hand-made in his North Pole workshop or donated by generous people, the airborne deputies saluted him, and provided a special police escort as he wrapped up his SCV deliveries.

More severe weather elsewhere on Santa's route did not deter him from completing his mission. NORAD reports he is already preparing for Christmas 2009.

On the SCV weather front Christmas Day, SCV locals can expect mostly cloudy skies, with a high near 48, southwest wind around 10 mph, and a 60 percent chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

The service issued a hazardous weather outlook this morning, warning of continued showers and snow in the local mountains. Snow levels are expected to drop significantly and may affect northbound Interstate 5 traffic through the Grapevine.

Later today and Friday, winds will shift, coming from the northwest, with occasional gusts. The Weather Service calls for clearing and drier conditions through the weekend and the middle of next week.

Christmas Eve, 12:57 p.m.:
A flash flood watch issued Wednesday will continue into today for recent burn areas of Los Angeles County below 6,000 feet.

A strong storm, which produced isolated areas of heavy showers through the night and approached Los Angeles County from the coast, continues to hold the potential for up to one-half-inch of rain per hour through the morning and is predicted to turn to showers this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Large amounts of rainfall could overflow urban and small streams as well as exceed established burn-area thresholds. Debris flows will be a particular threat during heavy downpours, the service said.

Today's high is expected to reach 49 degrees with southwest winds between 7 and 15 mph.

The overnight temperature is expected to drop to 38 degrees. Mountain areas along Interstate 5 north of Santa Clarita received 60 mph to 70 mph gusts Wednesday, which were expected to produce difficult and possibly escorted traveling conditions in the Tejon Pass today, Seco said. Snow levels were expected to fall to 4,000 feet today.

The heaviest Christmas Day rainfall on record for the Los Angeles County area was logged in 1946 when 2.29 inches of rain fell. The last rainy Christmas Day on record was in 2003, when the area received .085 inches of rain, Seco said.

Santa's annual trek across the world can be tracked on the NORAD Web site. NORAD is the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada. The Web site address is www.noradsanta.org.

Signal Online Editor Stephen K. Peeples contributed to thie update.

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