After beginning the week with unusual summer-like temperatures in most of the state, California late last week entered what was expected to be a severe weekend cold snap, with overnight temperatures in downtown Los Angeles and the inland areas heading close to freezing. In anticipation of the first real winter-like weather, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday directed state government to open citizen warming centers throughout the state.
Thursday, the state added two more centers in northern California, bringing to 13 the number of state national guard armories opened for citizens needing shelter from the cold, which will be accompanied by rain in some areas and snow in the mountains.
Schwarzenegger warned that northern and central parts of the state were expected to see nighttime lows drop into the teens and low 20s. Schwarzenegger said he took the action "to protect our most vulnerable communities (senior citizens, disabled and homeless populations)," noting that local governments would supplement the armories if necessary. Some 16 additional locations are prepared to open at county fairgrounds and elsewhere if necessary.
California cited National Weather Service forecasts calling for lows in the 20s and 30s through Thursday, followed by daytime highs in the low 40s to low 50s. "On Friday and into the weekend, temperatures [were to] drop further, reaching the high teens to low 20s in most areas at night, and continued daytime lows in the mid-40s," Schwarzenegger said.
The major private and public sector utilities were not expecting any problems from the cold. Energy supplies of natural gas and electricity are more than adequate, but a return of high winds and/or more wildfires in the parched southern half of the state could result in a return of widespread power outages similar to those that hit during the first weekend of the new year.
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