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First day of spring brings record rainfall

March 21, 2011 |  8:02 am

Snowy roads in Tehachapi. Click for larger image. Portions of Southern California received record rainfall in Sunday's storm that uprooted trees, knocked out power to thousands and dumped 2 feet of wet snow on the Grapevine, stranding motorists overnight.

Downtown Los Angeles had received 2.42 inches of rain as of midnight, nearly an inch more than the previous record for the day set in 1943, National Weather Service numbers show. Camarillo Airport logged 4.91 inches while a station at Santa Barbara Airport measured 5.23 inches of rain, both breaking daily records.

Hurricane-force wind gusts of up to 98 mph roared through mountain passes while gusts of up to 70 mph toppled trees across Southern California's urban landscape. Snow began falling over the Grapevine around 6 p.m. Sunday and the California Highway Patrol closed it overnight in both directions.

A CHP spokeswoman said they hoped to reopen the freeway by 9 a.m. Monday. Officers directed motorists to alternate routes on highways 14 and 126 that added hours to their trips.

 Scattered showers and gray days are expected to last through the week, with a possible break by Saturday, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Seto said heavy rain this time of year is not uncommon.

"Springtime did start yesterday, but Old Man Winter is hanging on just a little longer,'' Seto said. "He ain't ready to pack it up."


Storm closes 5 Freeway through Grapevine

Motorists diverted off 5 Freeway seek shelter until morning

Roads closed amid flooding, snow, mudflows from heavy rains

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Snowy roads in Tehachapi. Credit: Ben Welsh / Los Angeles Times