California continues cold but still without much moisture

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cold and blustery weather blew through California on Friday, scattering snow showers in the mountains and making travel on icy roads potentially hazardous but still failing to deliver winter's normal measure of precipitation.

A new coat of white in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles led to a snow day for kids in the Rim of the World school district, and classes were also canceled in Amador and El Dorado counties after up to 3 inches  (7.6 centimeters) fell in parts of the Sierra Nevada.

Various levels of chain controls were in effect on sections of U.S. 395 in Mono and Inyo counties along the Eastern Sierra and on eight state routes in the region, the California Department of Transportation said.

Vital Interstate 5 received flurries in towering Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles, but authorities did not have to shut it down.

High wind advisories, however, were posted for sections of I-5 in the pass and in the San Joaquin Valley, and Caltrans said travel was not recommended for vehicles with trailers and campers. The same advisory was posted for Interstate 80 at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Gale warnings and small craft advisories were issued all along the coast.

After a warm start to February, temperatures plunged this week with the arrival of a very cold air mass from Canada that triggered crop-threatening freezes. Numerous low temperature records were set or tied, but despite the turnabout, the system didn't bring typical winter rains.

The minimal moisture was emphasized when the National Weather Service noted that downtown San Francisco's 28-day midwinter dry spell had finally been snapped when 0.01 inch (0.25 millimeter) fell Thursday.

For growers who have been defending crops against the cold all week, Saturday was expected to bring another challenge. Forecasters said a freeze warning would be in effect in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The almond crop was particularly at risk.

"With almonds being the first flowering crop and extremely susceptible to frost, we are deeply concerned for our grower-owners and all California farmers who are affected by these freeze conditions," Mark Jansen, president and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers, said in a statement this week. The cooperative represents more than 3,000 of California's almond growers.

More cold low pressure systems are expected to drop down the West Coast next week, but forecasters aren't optimistic about rain.

In Los Angeles, where downtown has recorded less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain since Oct. 1, a chance of showers was predicted for Monday and Tuesday.

"By no means does this look like a large rain maker for the region," the weather service said.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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