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Gradual thaw in store for chilled Southern California

Posted: January 14, 2013 7:42 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2013 7:42 p.m.
 

The Santa Clarita Valley will begin a gradual thaw Tuesday as Southern California digs out from under a five-day cold snap.

Freezing nighttime temperatures were forecast for Monday night, and highs Tuesday were expected to reach just 55 degrees.

But a warming trend would follow, with temperatures due to reach 62 degrees Wednesday and stay in the high 60s for the rest of the week, with lows reaching the 40s by Wednesday night.

Santa Ana winds joined the mix Monday, and the rest of the week was due to be breezy.

Temperatures just before dawn Monday dipped to 28 degrees in the Newhall Pass, where they hit 31 early Sunday morning.

Lows were 29 in Saugus early Monday and 32 early Sunday.

The unusual cold, dry air mass lingering over the West caused crop damage in many areas. In Arizona, lost produce had already begun to drive up the price of lettuce nationwide Monday.

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, where farmers are fighting to protect about $1.5 billion worth of citrus fruit on their trees, Sunday temperatures dropped to 25 degrees in some areas and stayed low longer than previous nights.

Prolonged temperatures in the mid-20s cause damage to citrus crops.

“It was our coldest night to date,” Paul Story of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual said of temperatures Sunday night.

Mandarin oranges are particularly susceptible to the cold, and some groves were damaged despite farmers’ efforts to move air with giant fans to prevent frost settling on the fruit, he said.

Lindsey-based Robert LoBue — who grows 1,000 acres of citrus, including mandarins — said wind machines were critical in his groves, but saving the crop doesn’t come cheap.

LoBue runs one wind machine for every 10 acres and has to employ a crew to operate them.

“We’re very diligent; we run the wind and water all night,” LoBue said, “but we’re spending thousands of dollars to protect these crops.”

In Southern California, many crops were protected by Santa Ana winds, but one grower predicted higher prices anyway.

“We have between 170 to 200 employees, and if we can’t pick we have to lay off our picking crews,” said John Gless, a third-generation Riverside-based grower. And if there’s less fruit to pick, he said, prices will go up.

Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles fell to 34 degrees, breaking the previous record of 36 degrees set on Jan. 14, 2007.

In Beverly Hills, fans brought heavy coats and scarves as they waited along the red carpet hoping to catch glimpses of stars arriving for the Golden Globes ceremony Sunday evening. Some of the actors shivered but weren’t complaining.

“I’d rather be nippy than boiling hot,” said actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who arrived in a strapless dress. “No, I’m not wearing any leggings or long underwear.”

 

 

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