Surprise snowstorm hits So. California

Feb. 15, 2008 at 6:04 PM
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SAN DIEGO, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A section of Interstate 8, a highway that almost touches the Mexican border, remained closed Friday after a surprise winter storm hit Southern California.

The California Highway Patrol said more than 500 cars and trucks were abandoned on the highway, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. About 300 people sheltered overnight in a casino and 100 at a fire station.

Crashes were common but no major injuries or deaths were reported.

The snowstorm was not predicted. The National Weather Service forecast a 20 percent chance of light rain in the San Diego area for Thursday.

Instead, the rain was heavy near the Pacific and turned to snow in the mountains.

Bo Donovan, manager of the airport in Ramona, 1,393 feet above sea level, said he has worked there for almost five years without seeing snow.

"This is real snow. It's piled up against the building," he said.

Tracy Nelson, tribal chairman at the LaJolla Indian Reservation, said that 4 inches of snow had fallen outside the trading post by late afternoon. He said he had never seen such a heavy snowfall on the reservation, which is 3,000 feet above sea level.

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