Shortly after 9 a.m., a freak snowstorm hit the Stewards' house with fury, burying the green lawn and blooming rose bush and plastering the windows with white stuff.

For $500, Gregg Steward had bought his family a white Christmas.Since Dec. 13, the Riverside Ice Co. has shaved dozens of tons of ice to cover more than 20 green Southern California lawns with inches of pure white snow. Under blue skies, palm trees and basking in 70-degree temperature, children who have grown up with surfboards and skateboards have tried out sleds and toboggans for the first time.

While sun, sand and surf might sound attractive to Northerners shivering in their hats and mittens, Southern Californians apparently tire of the tanned life at Christmas time.

An Arcadia shop sells plastic icicles that customers use to cover the front of their homes, and sales of spray-can snow are up.