LOS ANGELES (AP) – A coast-to-coast storm that paralysed roads and blacked out nearly one million homes and businesses was set to pound California, sparking warnings about floods and blizzards.
The National Weather Service warned of a “cold and dangerous winter storm” through the weekend. As much as 1.5 metres of snow could fall in some mountains near Los Angeles, which could create whiteout conditions as winds gust to 120 kilometres per hour and an increased risk of avalanches, forecasters said.
The weather service issued rare blizzard warnings for Southern California mountain areas and urged drivers to avoid dangerous roads.
Storms already battered the Plains states and northern regions of the country for days and the National Weather Service predicted continuing problems from ice, snow and freezing rain into the weekend. In the Pacific Northwest, much of Oregon’s largest city was shut down after almost 30 centimetres of snow fell unexpectedly.
It took drivers in Portland by surprise, stalling traffic during the Wednesday evening rush hour and trapping motorists on freeways, some of whom spent the night in their cars.
Portions of Interstate 80 in California and Wyoming were closed because of impassable conditions. That included about a 112-kilometre stretch over the top of the Sierra Nevada linking California and Nevada.
The weather also knocked out power to nearly one million homes and businesses in multiple states and closed dozens of schools. Weather also contributed to airport snarls. At one point on Thursday, over 2,000 flights were grounded and nearly 14,000 were delayed across the country.
Widespread power outages were reported in Michigan, Illinois, California, New York and Wisconsin.