A nasty winter storm hits much of the United States, adding California to its targets

A brutal winter storm which has trapped drivers on icy roads, blacked out hundreds of thousands of homes, grounded planes and closed schools across much of the country was set to slam California on Thursday.

“We’re in for a VERY busy week!” tweeted the National Weather Service office in San Diego. “We have issued warnings for damaging winds, heavy mountain snow, very dangerous sailing conditions and the list goes on.”

For the first time since 1989, the weather service has issued a blizzard warning for the mountains of southern California that will continue through Saturday. Some coastal areas could see 10ft waves – and a few up to 14ft – through Thursday, forecasters said.

“Virtually everyone in California will be able to see snow from a vantage point later this week if they look in the right direction (i.e. towards the tallest hills nearby),” the UCLA climatologist Daniel Swain.

In Yucaipa, east of Los Angeles, a pileup involving at least 20 vehicles believed to have been caused by snow and ice on a freeway sent half a dozen people to hospitals and injured two others, the city fire department said.

The storm brought hail to Pasadena:

And, according to Storyful, snow — well, gusts, anyway — in Las Vegas:

The storm, one of a series that was expected to hit the country throughout the week, wreaked havoc from coast to coast. At some point on Wednesday, more than 75 million people in more than two dozen states were under weather alerts.

Power grids took a hit as ice embedded utility lines in the North and gusty winds toppled lines or clogged them with tree limbs and other debris in California.

Half an inch of ice covering a wire “equals having a small grand piano on that single span of wire, so weight matters,” said Matt Paul, executive vice president of distribution operations for DTE Electric, based in Detroit.

More than 900,000 customers were without power nationwide as of Thursday morning, the vast majority of them in Michigan, where some 668,000 homes and businesses had no power, according to PowerOutage.us.

The weather also contributed to nearly 1,800 flight cancellations in the United States on Wednesday, according to the tracking service. FlightAware. More than 6,000 other flights have been delayed across the country. Nearly 1,500 had been canceled or delayed as of 7:15 a.m. Thursday morning.

The winter mix has hit the northern United States hard, shutting down schools, offices and even shutting down the Minnesota Legislature. About 90 churches in western Michigan have canceled Ash Wednesday services, WZZM-TV reported.

Minnesota winter snowstorm, February 2023
Luis Lara clears sidewalks on February 22, 2023 in downtown Minneapolis.

Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via Getty Images

In Wyoming, the state Department of Transportation posted on social media that roads through much of the downstate were impassable.

Rescuers attempted to reach people trapped in vehicles, but high winds and blowing snow created an “almost impossible situation” for them, said Sgt. Jeremy Beck of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

“They know their locations, it’s just hard for them to get them,” he said.

In the Pacific Northwest, high winds and heavy snowfall in the Cascade Mountains prevented search teams from reaching the bodies of three climbers killed in an avalanche on Washington’s Colchuck Peak over the weekend .

Unexpected heavy snowfall during rush hour sent dozens of cars through Portland, Oregon, and caused hour-long traffic jams. The regional bus service offered free rides to heated shelters for the homeless.

In Arizona, about 180 miles of Interstate 40 was closed while New Mexico State Police closed on-ramps in Gallup, just across the line from Arizona.

The National Weather Service warned of the risk of blinding, windswept snow, especially Thursday afternoon night, when up to a half inch per hour could fall.

In California, a blizzard warning was in effect through Saturday for the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada, where forecasters said conditions could include several feet of snow drift from gusts of 60 mph and wind chill could drop the temperature to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Colorado Weather forecast
Motorists travel along the northbound lanes of Interstate 25 near the Air Force Academy after a winter storm containing heavy snowfall and single-digit temperatures swept through Intermountain West on February 22 2023, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

David Zalubowski/AP

In Sacramento, the state capital, the weather service said it received reports of something that could be hail or graupel — soft, wet snowflakes encased in supercooled water droplets.

At Denver International Airport, Taylor Dotson, her husband, Reggie, and their 4-year-old daughter, Raegan, faced a two-hour flight delay to Nashville on their way home to Belvidere, Wash. Tennessee.

Reggie Dotson was in Denver for a job interview as an airline pilot.

“I think it’s kind of funny that we’ve had those kinds of delays when that’s what he’s planning on doing now as a career,” Taylor Dotson said.

Few places were spared the savage weather, including some at the opposite extreme: Long-standing records were broken in cities across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Nashville peaked at 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, breaking a 127-year-old record for the date, according to the weather service.

Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Lexington, Kentucky and Mobile, Alabama were among many other records.

No warming was expected this week, however, in the northern United States. More than 18 inches could accumulate in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the National Weather Service said Wednesday night. According to the weather service, the largest snow event ever recorded in the Twin Cities was 28.4 inches from October 31 to November 3, 1991.

Temperatures could dip as low as minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday and minus 25 F on Friday in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Wind chill can drop to minus 50 F, said Grand Forks meteorologist Nathan Rick.

The storm will head for the East Coast later this week. Places that don’t get snow can get dangerous amounts of ice, forecasters have warned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *