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Wild winds taper off as thousands flock to mountain ski resorts

December 30, 2010 |  3:31 pm

After weeks of on and off rains, people flocked to the mountains for skiing and snowboarding.

The heavy winds that hit Southern California on Thursday morning began to taper off, and wind warnings were lifted by the National Weather Service.

All three resorts at Mountain High stopped selling tickets at 9 a.m., marketing manager Kim Hermon said. She estimated that more than 8,000 skiers and snowboarders were on the mountains.

Hermon attributed the crowds to fresh snowfall -- the resort received 6 inches to 8 inches of snow Wednesday morning -- and the holiday season. She said the resort also sold out Monday and Tuesday.

"It's called a bluebird day," Hermon said. "When you look out and it's just shiny and powdery and beautiful. This is one of our best days."

High wind gusts overnight hit 61 mph in Glendale and 90 mph in Angeles National Forest, said National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto. A high wind advisory remains in effect along the coast until noon, which means winds of 15 mph to 25 mph, with gusts of up to 45 mph.

Click here for an interactive on west coast weatherAuthorities issued a high wind warning for the mountains as well as for the San Gabriel, Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, with sustained winds of 35 mph to 50 mph and gusts of up to 80 mph. Those gusts will still measure up to 55 mph later Thursday afternoon. High surf advisories have been issued along the coast.

In the Hollywood Hills, a tree fell on a house shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday in the 3200 block of Hillock Drive, knocking down power lines, said Erik Scott, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. No one was hurt. 

Temperatures are unseasonably cool, especially in the mountains, but won’t set any records. The overnight lows were in the mid-40s along the coast, lower 40s in the valleys and the 20s in the mountains. The forecast highs Thursday also are cooler than normal: mid-50s along the coast, around 50 in the valleys and about 30 in the mountains.

Rainfall totals ending Wednesday ranged from 0.5 to 0.75  of an inch, and a little more in the mountains, which also received a fresh blanket of snow in the resort areas of Mountain High and Mt. Baldy.

Friday will be colder still, with frost in the valleys overnight, but no precipitation along the coast or in the valleys. Rain could move in again Saturday, potentially affecting the 122nd Rose Parade in Pasadena, although the parade-goers may have mostly chilly temperatures to endure.

The prospect of rain increases to 40% on Sunday, with snow levels dropping to 3,500 feet. Rain accumulation over the weekend could be half an inch. After some clearing, more rain could arrive around Tuesday.


Widespread power outages from high winds

Record rains leave hillsides perilously soaked

High winds, cold temperatures will be followed by rain

--Sam Allen and Howard Blume