A historic weather front that battered a wide swath of Southern California with shocking snowfall, record rainfall and flooding loosened its grip on Sunday — but more severe weather is expected this week.
Tens of thousands of Americans braced for dangerous conditions, from snowstorms in Michigan to tornadoes in Texas.
In California, a new storm is forecast to bring rain and snow as early as Sunday night, the National Weather Service said. Snow won’t reach the edge of coastal cities in recent days, but this week’s forecast for Los Angeles calls for high temperatures in the low 50s — 15 degrees below normal.
About 75,000 homes and businesses in the state were without power Sunday after days of strong winds, rain and snow toppled trees and downed power lines.
Forecasters at the Weather Service in Los Angeles said, “A significant storm has produced historic rainfall and snow over the past few days at elevations where snow is rarely seen.”
Meteorologist Mark Moide said the winter storm will move out of Southern California this morning and there will be a brief break in the weather, but rain and mountain snow are expected to return Monday through Wednesday.
• More than 7 inches of rain fell in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, causing flash flooding that stranded cars on roadsides Saturday.
• Los Angeles Fire Department ground and air crews rescued four people and five animals from flooding in Encino, California, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
• At the height of the storm, up to 10 inches of rain fell in low-lying areas and more than 5 feet of snow fell in some mountainous areas.
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Michigan struggles with outages, braces for next storm
More than 300,000 homes and businesses were in the dark across Michigan on Sunday, days after storms knocked out power to 1 million customers. Another round of severe weather could move into the region on Monday.
The weather service said the “possibility of strong winds continues” along with sleet, freezing rain and heavy snow. The weather service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, warned that more power outages were possible and travel would be disrupted.
“WORST: Additional freezing rain and snow accumulation expected Monday,” the weather service tweeted. “Good: Accumulations should be low and north of snowstorm-affected areas.”
High wind watches and warnings were extended to more than 60 million Americans from Ohio to New Mexico. Severe thunderstorms with winds of up to 75 mph were expected to move across the eastern Texas panhandle through parts of Oklahoma and into the western Ozarks region.
“A terrico is forecast with widespread damaging winds and embedded swaths of significantly stronger winds,” said forecaster Roger Edwards of the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. Derechos carry more wind and move faster in a straight line.
A few tornadoes are also possible “with the potential for significant/EF2+ damage,” Edwards said. An EF2 tornado has sustained winds of up to 135 mph.
A combination of warm atmospheric river air and cold air from Alaska conspired to bring a dusting of snow to the high desert regions of Southern California valleys on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
Rare snow fell Saturday in Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana in San Bernardino County. The mountains around Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, were white, with snow up to 1,000 feet from the mountains. The snow also caught residents of the inner suburbs by surprise.
In the mountains, the University of California, Berkeley, Central Sierra Snow Lab said four-day totals reached 56 inches near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada.
“Several sizable storms are expected to drop another 5-10 feet tomorrow and the snow will return!” The lab tweeted.
Downtown Los Angeles saw 2.29 inches of rain on Friday, making it the wettest February day in 20 years, according to AccuWeather. The single-day rainfall was 20 times more than the total of 0.10 inches in the past three Februarys.
Southern California has seen days of unprecedented storms — San Diego issued its first blizzard warning on Friday and Los Angeles issued its first in 34 years. In Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area saw a light dusting of snow, while Yosemite National Park was closed until March 1 due to wintry weather.
It’s not just California that is experiencing unusually cold weather as we approach March.
Tasty spring training games in Arizona and a cozy stroll down The Strip in Las Vegas are a hit this year as Pacific storms roll in from the north to the east.
The high temperature won’t climb above 65 degrees until Saturday in Phoenix, the heart of the 15-team Cactus League, which helps thousands of baseball fans escape the cold every year.
Las Vegas, another desert city blessed with frequent sunshine, is expected to welcome the arrival of March with showers and a high of 49 on Wednesday before climbing into the 60s on Saturday.
By then, Los Angeles residents will be able to ditch the parkas, but not the sweaters, as the mercury will only reach 65 degrees, thanks to a new cold front that will keep temperatures below normal for several days in March.
Contributed by: Associated Press