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From monkeys to surfers, California braces for cold

Gerardo Navarette of Santa Rosa bundles up against the cold weather as he walks to work on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

KENT PORTER/ PD
Published: Friday, January 11, 2013 at 8:28 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 at 9:10 a.m.

SAN DIEGO — Californians are bundling up with sweaters and gloves and stocking up on firewood as they endure the latest winter storm that has brought very 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." Long Beach could see temps dip into the low 30s, she said.

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.

Morning frost was expected on San Diego and Los Angeles beaches. Big Sur, on the central coast, prepared for daytime highs almost 20 degrees below Boston's. Even the snowbird haven of Palm Springs saw temperatures hover around freezing at night. A low of 12 degrees was recorded in the snow-covered Big Bear mountain resort east of Los Angeles.

In addition, San Diego zookeepers turned up the heat for chimpanzees, tourists covered their hands on Hollywood walking tours, and some farmers broke out wind machines and took other steps to protect crops from freezing.

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 at 7:25 a.m. Saturday, 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.

Some customers drove more than an hour to buy firewood.

"It's crazy busy here," said Renea Teasdale, office manager at The Woodshed in Orange, south of Los Angeles.

Still, it was business as usual as much of the state contended with temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s.

"It's still sunny Southern California, and I'm going to work on my legs all year long," said Linda Zweig, a spokeswoman for the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which is hosting a 5-kilometer run north of San Diego on Sunday. The lifelong San Diego-area resident is prone to wearing two sweatshirts when the temperature drops but refuses to give up on shorts.

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 Thursday and Friday 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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Associated Press writers John Marshall in San Francisco, Elliot Spagat in San Diego, Gosia Wozniacki in Fresno and Chris Carlson in Orange contributed to this report.

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