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Californians deal with freezing temps, snow

SAN DIEGO – Californians bundled up with sweaters and gloves and stocked up on firewood as they endure the latest winter storm that has brought unseasonable freezing temperatures.

The National Weather Service said records could fall as the cold snap stretches into the weekend.

“It’s only going to get colder,” NWS weather specialist Bonnie Bartling said. “Early Sunday, you’re looking at possibly mid-30s in downtown Los Angeles.”

Freeze warnings were issued for Sunday morning across wide swaths of the LA Basin and San Diego County. Residents were being urged to cover outdoor plants and bring pets inside.

Temperatures dropped to 5 degrees in the snow-covered Big Bear mountain resort east of Los Angeles on Saturday. The rural town of Ramona in eastern San Diego County recorded a low of 23 degrees, breaking the 24 degrees set in 2007. Even the snowbird haven of Palm Springs saw temperatures hover around freezing at night.

Traffic was flowing again on a major Southern California traffic artery that was severed for the second time in three days because of snow.

The Grapevine segment of Interstate 5 was reopened Saturday morning, about four hours after icy conditions forced the closure, the California Highway Patrol said. The key link between the Central Valley and Los Angeles was also shut for about 17 hours on Thursday, stranding hundreds of truckers and other motorists.

In Sonoma County, homeless shelters handed out extra warm clothes to protect people from frigid overnight temperatures.

In the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of California’s citrus production, growers prepared for another round of freezing temperatures early Sunday after seeing little crop damage the previous two nights.

“Last night was not a problem, but tonight and Monday morning could have the potential to be pretty cold,” Paul Story, director of grower service at California Citrus Mutual, said Saturday.

Farmers run wind machines and water to protect their fruit, which can raise the temperature in a grove by up to 4 degrees, Story said. Existing moisture, sporadic rain and cloud cover can also help keep in heat.

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