National News

Mother Nature gives it her all during a wild day in Southern California; thousands lose power

Posted: 03/28/07 at 6:45 am EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Volatile weather swept through Southern California on Tuesday, delivering downpours, hail, snow, and fierce winds that capsized boats and toppled power lines and trees. Nearly 185,000 customers lost power.

The roof was torn off the Orange County Fire Authority's aviation building, and harbor patrol officers made rescues in Newport Bay and offshore.

Gusts up to 40 mph capsized a small powerboat and three outriggers, sheriff's Sgt. David Ginther said.

In Newport Bay, 24 members of a University of California, Irvine, rowing crew were thrown into the water when their boats flipped. Some swam ashore, and others were rescued, Ginther said.

A large section of roof laminate and asphalt tile landed on four cars and caused minor damage but no injuries, fire Capt. Stephen J. Miller said. Fire crews were responding to numerous reports of downed trees and power lines, he said.

"It was pretty crazy out there," Miller said. "I was driving on the freeway and saw many dust storms."

Snow also fell across a swath of mountains and desert.

The day dawned clear and breezy, but fast-moving clouds brought downpours that pelted parts of greater Los Angeles, then rapidly cleared again.

Strong winds accompanied by sporadic showers and hail were driven by a cold front that moved in from the north, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt said.

About 165,000 Southern California Edison customers lost power, but only about 11,700 remained blacked out by late Tuesday, the utility said. Another 20,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers lost power, spokeswoman Kim Hughes said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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