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Freezing temps causing water pipes to rupture

The cold weather on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, caused water pipes to freeze and then burst, resulting in flooding and other damages Encore High School in Hesperia.

January 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Mother Nature continues to serve up a combination of bone-chilling temperatures and strong howling winds across the Southland.

In addition to the bitter cold, many areas in the region will have to deal with frost and gusty Santa Ana winds. Winds were seen violently ripping through palm trees and flags in Fontana on Monday.

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Widespread, below-freezing readings are expected again on Tuesday morning for the interior valleys, mountains, and deserts of the region, the National Weather Service said.

Temperatures are expected to rise across the region Wednesday.

The cold weather is particularly hard on the homeless. The body of a transient was found on a downtown Los Angeles street Monday morning and investigators are looking at the possibility that the cold had something to do with it.

The man, who was in his 50s, was found on the sidewalk in the 300 block of West 1st Street under blankets. Though it appears he died of natural causes, the Coroner's Department said an autopsy would be needed to determine if the temperatures played a part in his death.

In San Bernardino, the cold was not only felt, but seen with water pipes freezing and then bursting. The San Bernardino County Fire Department responded to 44 incidents Sunday involving broken water lines, which resulted in flooding.

"Anytime you have freezing conditions longer than two or three days, no matter how well insulated the pipes are, they're bound to burst," said Erik Jacquez of Purofirst Fire and Water Restoration.

That's exactly what happened at Victorville United Methodist Church, where the pastor says at least 10 rooms were damaged.

The situation was even worse at Encore High School in Hesperia, where fire sprinkler pipes exploded. Officials said some pipes fell through the ceiling and that desks and furniture all over a building were destroyed. Important paper work was soaked.

The strong winter gusts also made driving dangerously difficult for commuters in some areas. Motorists in a high-profile vehicle such as a pickup truck, van, SUV or a semi-truck should be extra careful as these vehicles are more prone to be pushed or flipped by high winds.

Truck driver Joe Mendoza said the winds feel much stronger when traveling in a truck.

"Compared to a car, its way different," Mendoza said. "I've got a full load so I'm not going to go anywhere, but as long as you drive slow, be careful, you should be alright."

Throughout Ventura County, some farm hands were busy harvesting crops despite the icy cold temps. Agricultural store Manager Tom Paul says whether it's oranges, lemons or green leafy plants, farmers are concerned about their crops.

As temperatures dipped 10 to 15 degrees below normal this weekend, the cold caused problems for growers in the Fresno area trying to protect their plants.

Grower Keith Neumey concentrated on protecting his crops from the frost.

"I'll say this tongue-in-cheek: we've been real fortunate. Each night we've just dodged a bullet," Neumey said.

Bob Blakley of California Citrus Mutual said damage to crops by freezing temperatures can affect crop yield losses in the long run.

"It's really important to protect not just for farmers livelihood but for benefit of local economy," Blakley said. "The last few nights have been the perfect example of how a few degrees can make the difference between saving a crop and losing a crop."

Citrus trees and strawberries are especially vulnerable to frost at this time of the year. The good news is that the freeze is not expected to have any impact on citrus prices.

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For Ventura County, a freeze warning was issued for the interior valleys from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday and a high wind watch was issued for the coastal valleys from 6 a.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday.

A wind advisory took effect at 6 a.m. Monday and is scheduled to end at 3 a.m. Tuesday for the Los Angeles County coast, including downtown Los Angeles, and the Ventura County coast. Some areas will see gusts of up to 60 mph.

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