Climate transferring west as California winter storm causes havoc with heavy snow, rain pummeling area
Millions of Americans could feel the effects of a major storm system bringing rain, wind and snow to much of the West. It is then expected to migrate across the heartland and into the Northeast in the coming days.
As a major winter storm sweeps across the country, millions of Americans brace themselves for treacherous weather conditions.
In California, high winds uproot trees and down power lines, leaving homes and businesses dark.
A rare snowstorm warning remains in effect for parts of Southern California — including the Los Angeles area — Saturday as some areas endure heavy snow and record rainfall that has led to dangerous flooding.
Severe weather conditions on the west coast have brought unfamiliar wintry conditions at higher elevations, particularly over the mountainous areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where up to 30 inches of snow can pair with winds of 80 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said.
The Blizzard warnings should last until Saturday afternoon. The Los Angeles office of the National Weather Service had not issued a snowstorm warning since 1989.
And the threat of more power outages lingered on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
The heavy snowfall and strong winds can ultimately mean that visibility for people in the area is close to zero even when the snow stops falling, as strong winds can blow the flakes off the ground. Weather warnings have called for extreme caution when travelling.
There was between 20 and 40 inches of snow over the course of three days Friday night at high elevations on Southern California’s Big Bear Lake, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency also reported that many vehicles were stuck Friday morning, prompting state officials to close roads.
At the same time, torrential rain is expected to continue pounding the Los Angeles metro area on Saturday after the area was flooded a day earlier.
“A cold, strong and potentially dangerous winter storm will bring bouts of heavy rain and mountain snow with gusty southerly winds to most of southwest California through Saturday,” the weather service said.
Thunderstorms resulted in a ground stop at LAX. Departures to parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona were delayed, with some arrivals being diverted to Ontario, California.
The heavy rains are also raising the water level in the Los Angeles River several feet higher than usual.
Motorists and vehicles were seen stranded after water levels rose and some roads became impassable. A driver was stranded on Interstate 5 in flooding.
A flash flood warning for around 1 million people in Los Angeles, Glendale and Santa Clarita remained in place during the late night hours through Saturday morning.
“It’s pretty treacherous conditions up north. There’s a lot of snow, a lot of ice,” said Joshua Greengard, PIO of the California Highway Patrol.
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Further north, the San Francisco Bay Area is experiencing its second day of snow.
“Real snow, no joke, not just a little bit of dust, but real snow here in the East Bay Hills,” said Michael Sullivan, an Oakland Hills resident.
Ten-year-old Jackie Pierce got the chance to build her first snowman.
“Thank you weather that it snowed,” she said.
Portland, Oregon was also hit with more snow.
A road worker was injured after stopping to help a motorist after a van driver lost control after driving on ice.
The same weather system is expected to move east over the weekend, bringing damaging winds to parts of the Midwest where residents are already digging out after a storm earlier this week.
Michigan’s outages won’t fully return until Sunday
The aftermath of the same weather system that ravaged California and numerous states across the country earlier this week is still affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Midwest.
Nearly 500,000 Michigan homes and businesses were left in the dark Saturday after a strong winter storm created dangerous icing conditions, according to tracking site PowerOutage.us. Wayne County recorded the highest number of dropouts with more than 150,000.
DTE, one of Michigan’s largest electric providers, is restoring power to affected areas but warns most customers will be able to resume service before Sunday.
The storm hit several western states and the Great Lakes region, delivering masses of snow for several days.
Crews in Wyoming were in search and rescue mode after more than 40 inches of snow fell in southern parts of the state over the course of several days, leaving motorists trapped in heavy snowfall, the state highway patrol said on Twitter.
In Minnesota, Minneapolis officials on Friday declared a one-day snow emergency due to heavy snowfall, and city crews have been plowing and treating roads. The city was hammered by more than 13 inches in three days this week.
Since the storm began Monday night, accumulated snowfall has reached dozens of inches in some cities, including 48 inches in Battle Lake, Wyoming, 32 inches in Dupuyer, Montana, and 29 inches in Park City, Utah.
In New England, freezing conditions likely contributed to a massive pile-up of 15 vehicles on the Massachusetts Turnpike Thursday night, according to a tweet from Massachusetts State Police.
The Northeast, which hasn’t seen much wintry weather so far this season, could feel the effects of this westerly storm by Tuesday.
ABC News and CNN contributed to this post.