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NorCal Spared From Expected Record Cold

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(Sent by Donna from Colfax, Calif.)

(Sent by Donna from Colfax, Calif.)

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Northern Californians on Sunday enjoyed a brief respite from the cold and wet weather that has gripped the region over the past few days.

Temperatures across the region dipped to exceptionally low levels late Saturday and early Sunday, but forecasters said it wasn’t quite as cold as expected.

In the San Francisco Bay area, only downtown Oakland saw a record low temperature, according to the National Weather Service.

A new record was set when it dipped to 36 degrees in Oakland around 4 a.m. Sunday, said Austin Cross, a meteorologist in the service’s Monterey office. The previous record low was 39 degrees, which was set in 2007.

In the San Joaquin Valley, temperatures fell into the upper 20s and low 30s, but initial reports from growers indicated that most crops appeared to have escaped serious damage.

“It was mostly clear and cold, but no records were broken,” said weather service meteorologist Johnnie Powell in Sacramento.

Because almond, peach, plum and nectarine trees that are in bloom are most vulnerable to freezing temperatures, growers were relieved to see overnight temperatures were not as cold as expected.

“It appears we dodged a bullet,” said Michael Kelley, president and CEO of the Central California Almond Growers Association.

Kelley said about 35 percent of the almond crop — valued between half a billion and a billion dollars — was in bloom. California produces 80 percent of the world’s supply of almonds.

“There probably is some damage, but it was minimal,” he said.

In Southern California, the major route between the Los Angeles area and Central California was reopened after being shut down overnight because of heavy snow and ice.

The weather was expected to be clear for Sunday night’s Academy Awards in Los Angeles, but the red carpet will likely be chilly.

The sunny weather wasn’t expected to last long, with forecasters predicting another storm system would be moving into Northern California late Sunday and early Monday.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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