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Wacky Weather: Heat in West, Snow in East, Flooding In Between

April 8, 1989

Undated (AP) _ Southern Californians could get some relief today from a record heat wave, while North Dakota and Minnesota residents scramble to protect their homes against what’s expected to be some of the worst flooding this century.

In the East, folks bundled up for damp or snowy weather today.

A fourth day of record Southern California heat shut down a hospital emergency room Friday and trapped smog in the valleys.

Downtown Los Angeles had a high of 100 degrees, breaking the date’s record of 88 set in 1904 and tied in 1962. The city reached a record-tying 100 on Tuesday and had record highs of 105 Wednesday and 106 Thursday.

In Minnesota and North Dakota, property owners stood in line at emergency management offices to buy sandbags to protect their homes from Red River flooding.

″We just can’t keep up,″ said Jim Grondahl, an emergency services director in North Dakota. ″We went through another 11,000 (bags) this morning and I’ve got more on order.″

In the East, springtime snows were expected in the northern and central Appalachians as well as parts of New England today, though little accumulation was forecast.

California’s Santa Ana weather pattern, which began with warm winds last weekend and pushed highs into triple digits Tuesday, was dissipating, and a cooling trend was expected today, National Weather Service forecasters said.

Still, the heat maintained a sweltering presence Friday. San Diego topped out at 93 - 8 degrees above the 1962 record and 25 degrees above normal.

In northern California, records continued to melt away, too.

Santa Cruz recorded the high for the Bay area with 94 degrees, breaking the previous high for the date of 88 set in 1899. San Jose came in with 93 degrees, to beat a 1934 record of 84. San Francisco’s high of 92 degrees broke the previous record of 81 set in 1939 and set an all-time high for the month of April.

The University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center was forced to shut its emergency rooms after a 20-minute fire Thursday night knocked out the air conditioning.

The blaze in two rooftop air conditioning cooling towers caused no injuries or evacuations. The cooling system was repaired and was expected to be cooling off patient wards today, said spokeswoman Vicki Beck.

Elsewhere, thousands sought relief at the beaches, but they had to cross hot-as-griddle sands to reach the ocean.

Lifeguard Randy DeGregori, watching over some of the 60,000 people crowded near the water on Santa Monica Beach, figured the sand was 10 or 15 degrees hotter than the air.

First-stage smog alerts were issued for part of the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles and to the west in the Santa Monica area. The alerts mean pollutants were at levels unhealthful for everyone.

North Dakota Gov. George Sinner asked the state Legislature to allow using up to $1.5 million in profits from a state-run bank to help the Red River Valley rebuild after rampant flooding. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday amended Sinner’s request into the budget.

In Minnesota, the state Senate Finance Committee approved a $250,000 appropriation to provide emergency flood assistance for the Red River Valley.

The Red River forms the boundary between Minnesota and North Dakota. The 533-mile river flows north into Lake Winnipeg in Canada.

Runoff from the winter’s heavy snowfall sent the river and two adjoining rivers over their banks earlier this week in the communities of Breckenridge, Minn., and Wahpeton, N.D., forcing the evacuation of scores of residents and damaging hundreds of homes.

The river had risen to a level of more than 32 feet Friday and was expected to crest at 36 1/2 feet late Sunday or Monday, which would be the second- worst flood this century in the cities. The river rose to 37.3 feet during a 1969 flood. Flood stage is 17 feet.

″I’ve lived here a long time and I’ve never seen it like this,″ Willard Eckes of Wahpeton said as he surveyed a submerged city park across the street from his home. ″This is something that comes along only once in a lifetime.″

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