Feb 25 (Reuters) – Nearly 85,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Los Angeles area on Saturday as storms continued to pound parts of California, bringing snow to high elevations and rain and hail to lowlands.
Interstate 5, the largest freeway north of the city, was closed at a steep grade known as the Grapevine due to heavy snow, while several southbound sections of the freeway in and around Los Angeles were closed due to flooding, the California Department of Transportation said.
In Northern California, San Francisco is expected to record coldest temperatures on Saturday, and the National Weather Service warned residents of the state capital, Sacramento, to avoid travel Sunday through Wednesday as rain and snow resumed after a break on Saturday.
“Extreme impacts from heavy snow and wind can make driving conditions extremely dangerous and lead to widespread road closures and infrastructure damage!” The company said on Twitter.
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The next storms expected to hit Sunday will bring gusts of up to 50 mph (80 km/h) in the Sacramento Valley and 70 mph (70 km/h) in the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. Yosemite National Park is closed until Wednesday due to severe winter weather.
Brian Jackson, a forecaster at the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, attributed the unusual conditions to a massive low-pressure system driving in from the Arctic.
In Southern California, “this is a rare occurrence of a cold, significant storm event,” Jackson said.
In a sight that must have delighted many Angelenos on Friday, snowflakes even fell around the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee in the hills above the city known for its sunny days and palm trees.
On Saturday, rain, hail and a mix of snow and moisture known as “graupel” and isolated thunderstorms are expected, the National Weather Service said.
A separate storm that hit the U.S. Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes earlier this week crossed New England and made landfall on Friday into the Atlantic Ocean, the weather service said. More than 400,000 customers of Detroit-based DTE Energy ( DTE.N ) were without power Saturday, the Detroit News reported.
Before the latest storm, much of California had experienced an unusually wet, cold winter, with deadly “atmospheric river” storms unleashing widespread flooding, downing trees and causing mudslides.
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Sandra Maler
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