LOS ANGELES Feb. 26 (U.S.): A powerful winter storm that lashed the West Coast with flooding and frigid temperatures shifted its focus to Southern California on Saturday, swelling rivers to dangerous levels and snowfall even in low-lying areas around Los Angeles. Angeles.
The National Weather Service said it was one of the most powerful storms ever to hit southwestern California, and even with reduced wind and rain volumes continued to have significant impact including snowfalls as low as 1,000 feet (305 meters).
The hills around the suburbs of Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, were blanketed in white, and snow also stunned the inner suburbs to the east, the Associated Press reports.
Rare mountain blizzard warnings and widespread flood watches stopped late in the day as the storm abated in the area. Meteorologists said there will be a day’s rest before the next storm arrives on Monday.
After days of high winds, damaged trees and downed wires, more than 120,000 utility customers in California remain without power, according to PowerOutage.us.
Interstate 5, the West Coast’s main north-south highway, remained closed due to heavy snow and ice at Tejon Pass through the mountains north of Los Angeles.
Multiple precipitation totals as of Saturday morning included a staggering 81 inches (205 cm) of snow at Mountain High Resort in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles and up to 64 inches (160 cm) farther east in Snow Valley in San Francisco. Bernardino. mountains.
Rainfall totals through late Saturday morning were equally astounding, including nearly 15 inches (38.1 cm) at Cogswell Dam in Los Angeles County and about 10.5 inches (26.6 cm) in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles.
“A wonderful storm the past few days with historic amounts of rain and snow to heights that rarely see snow,” the Los Angeles-area Bureau of Meteorology wrote.
The Los Angeles River and other waterways that normally flow intermittently or dry most of the year were raging with runoff on Saturday. The Los Angeles Fire Department used a helicopter to rescue four homeless people who were stranded in the river’s main flood control basin. Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said two were taken to hospital with hypothermia.
In the Valencia area of northern Los Angeles County, the raging Santa Clara River moved three mobile homes early Saturday after carving them into an embankment where an RV park is located. KCAL-TV reported that no one was hurt, but a resident described the scene as devastating.
The storm, fueled by a low pressure spin off the coast, did not leave quietly. Lightning strikes closed off Los Angeles County beaches and scattered bursts of snow, rain and thunderstorms continued.
Derek Maiden, 57, who lives in a tent in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, collected cans in the rain to take them to a recycling center. He said that this winter has been wetter than usual. “It’s miserable when you’re out in the weather,” he said.
Meanwhile, people farther east were struggling to deal with the aftermath of storms earlier this week.
More than 350,000 Michigan customers were without power as of early Saturday afternoon, according to reports from two of the state’s major utilities, DTE and Consumer Energy. Both said they hope to have the lights back on for most of their customers by Sunday night.
Half an inch (1.27 cm) of ice weighed some power lines about as much as a grand piano, said Brian Wheeler, a spokesperson for Consumer Energy.
“People are not just angry, they’re fighting,” said M. Perry, director of environmental justice at Michigan United, a group that advocates for economic and racial justice. People huddle under blankets to keep warm.
She said the group would demand utilities reimburse residents for the cost of buying generators or replacing spoiled groceries.
In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Alison Rinker was using a borrowed generator to keep her 150-year-old home warm Saturday after two nights in the cold and dark.
“We were all alive, but morale was low on the second day,” she said. “Once the heat came back and we were able to turn on one or two lights, it was a complete reversal of the situation.”
After driving to a relative’s home to stock up on food, Rinker, 27, compared the destruction of trees to hurricane damage.
“The snow that was falling from the trees as it melted was hitting the windshield so hard, I was afraid it was going to crack,” she said. “There are just limbs of trees everywhere, half the trees just fell down. The destruction is insane.”
Back in California, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center forecast heavy snowfall over the Cascade Mountains and Sierra Nevada over the weekend.
The low pressure system is also expected to cause widespread rain and snow in southern Nevada by Saturday afternoon and across northwest Arizona Saturday night and Sunday morning, the National Weather Service office in Las Vegas said.
An avalanche warning has been issued for the Sierra Nevada hinterland around Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border.
The weather service said about 2 feet (61 cm) of new snow fell by Friday and another 5 feet (1.5 m) is expected when another storm moves in with the potential for strong winds and gusts Sunday. .
In Arizona, the heaviest snowfall was expected late Saturday through midday Sunday, with up to a foot of new snow likely in Flagstaff, meteorologists said.
Snow was also forecast for the weekend in parts of the upper Midwest to the Northeast, with pockets of freezing rain over some areas of the central Appalachians. The storm is expected to reach the central high plains on Sunday evening.
At least three people died in the storms from coast to coast. A Michigan firefighter died Wednesday after coming into contact with a downed power line, while a pedestrian died in Rochester, Minnesota, after being struck by one of the city-operated snowplows. Authorities in Portland, Oregon, said one person died of hypothermia.
Much of Portland has been closed off by icy roads after the city’s second-largest snowfall on record this week: about 11 inches (28 centimeters). While the city saw sunny skies and temperatures approaching 40 degrees on Saturday afternoon, the lull and thaw did not last. More snow is expected overnight and into Sunday.