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Dense fog blankets Valley

weather to clear by afternoon

January 12, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The tail end of a fierce, cold storm buffeted Southern California on Friday morning, churning up waves along the coast and turning highways slick and dangerous.

Meteorologists said the state's worst storm in three years would taper off in the afternoon and leave sunny skies behind, but not before dumping half-an-inch more rain on the city and a foot more snow on the mountains.

In Imperial County the storm brought a 10th of an inch of rain yesterday with a dense fog covering the Imperial Valley this morning, according to Jim Christopherson, county meteorologist.

Christopherson said today would be the last day of any stormy weather the Valley would see as the skies should clear by the afternoon. The Valley can expect fair weather this weekend with highs in the mid-60s, said Christopherson.


Elsewhere, at least four deaths were blamed on weather-related traffic accidents Thursday as the storm unleashed its full force. A hotel pier collapsed in roaring waves in Long Beach, tidal surges broke apart docks in Channel Islands Harbor and dozens of cars were submerged in parking garages.

This morning the roads were littered with fender-benders and spun-out cars, but the California Highway Patrol reported no major incidents.

‘‘Of course the roadway is wet and slippery but I think the motorists are aware of that after yesterday and driving more carefully,'' said CHP Officer Shirley Gaines.

The Alaska-bred storm that began Wednesday dropped well over 4 inches of rain in many areas and more than 9 inches in Santa Barbara County. Total snowfall was expected to be more than 4 feet in the mountains, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Ray Tanabe.

Forecasters also said there could be mudslides in the hills and 20-foot surf could gnaw at sandbag barricades in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties during an astronomical high tide Friday morning expected to measure 6.4 feet.

More than 1,000 sandbags were in place to prevent potential mudslides in Thousand Oaks, site of a 600-acre fire last month that denuded hillsides, and rescue crews were kept busy. Patrol agents rescued eight Mexican immigrants Thursday as they attempted to cross snow-covered mountains in San Diego County, and in Los Angeles County, a woman was pulled out of her overturned SUV after falling 100 to 200 feet down an embankment.

The storm also took a toll on California's strained power grid, contributing to warnings from energy officials throughout the day Thursday that rolling blackouts were imminent.

(Staff Writer Anthony Longoria contributed to this report.)

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