Difficult weather hits west

BY PJ HELLER | LOS ANGELES | February 14, 2001

Southern California began warming up and drying off Wednesday, one day after a fierce winter storm dumped rain, hail, and snow on the region. High winds downed power lines and trees, knocking out electrical service to more than 25,000 homes and businesses.

Low-lying areas were flooded and some roads, including Interstate 5, a major north-south highway, were closed because of the snow. About 200 vehicles were stranded overnight on Interstate 5 in the Tehachapi Mountains, authorities reported. A few people stranded by the snow were rescued by a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department helicopter.

In north Texas, meanwhile, up to three inches of rain fell Tuesday, causing some flooding in northwest Tarrant County. At least one mobile

home in the Eagle Mountain Lake community was washed away, another was threatened, and two houses were swamped. The flooding forced the closure of some roads.

In Southern California, more than three inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period. Snow fell at elevations of 900 feet on San Marcos Pass near Santa Barbara, prompting the closure of Highway 154. Some residents took advantage of the snowstorm, heading up to the mountains to play in the snow and to take pictures of the unusual wintry weather.

The California Highway Patrol set up a roadblock on Highway 154 to turn residents back. "In the interest of safety, go home," advised Patrolman Dave King, who admitted the cold was getting to him. "I wish I'd worn two pairs of long johns," he said.

Other roads in Southern California were either closed by the snow or only open to vehicles with four-wheel drive with chains.

The weather caused scores of accidents. Schools in Antelope Valley were closed, as was part of the Antelope Valley Freeway. Ski resorts welcomed the blast of winter weather, which was expected to dump up to three feet of new snow at Big Bear.

The high winds, clocked at up to 75 mph, ripped about 40 boats from their moorings at a marina in San Pedro. Several of the boats had major

damage and about 20 people who lived aboard the crafts had to find shelter elsewhere. The National Weather Service said more wintry

weather could hit the region later in the weekend.

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