A historic weather front that hit a swath of Southern California with shocking snowfall, record rainfall and flooding loosened its grip on Sunday — but severe weather is expected across the state this week.
The first of two new storms brought rain and snow to Northern California on Sunday. Blizzard warnings go into effect at 4 a.m. Monday and last for much of the Sierra Nevada through Wednesday.
“Extremely dangerous and impossible mountain travel is expected due to heavy snow and strong winds,” the weather service’s Sacramento office warned on Twitter.
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 — about 15 degrees below normal.
More than 61,500 homes and businesses were without power in the state by Sunday afternoon after days of strong winds, rain and snow knocked down trees and power lines.
Forecasters at the Weather Service in Los Angeles said, “The past few days have seen historic precipitation and snow and a significant storm below elevations that rarely see snow.
Meteorologist Mark Moyt 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.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are bracing for dangerous conditions, from snowstorms in Michigan to hurricanes in Texas.
• More than 7 inches of rain fell in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, causing flash flooding that stranded cars on roads 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.
A snowstorm in Southern California:What to know about strange weather
Michigan struggles with outages, braces for next storm
Over 217,000 homes and businesses were in the dark across southeast Michigan Sunday night. Utilities serving the area said they hoped to restore power to most affected customers by the end of the night.
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.”
A tornado has been confirmed in Oklahoma
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 terrego is forecast with widespread damaging winds and embedded areas of significant strong 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.
Meanwhile, warning sirens sounded in Oklahoma City late Sunday as dangerous winds swept into the city. The National Weather Service in Norman confirmed a tornado between Lone Wolf, Oklahoma and Hobart, Oklahoma.
The sirens urged residents to take shelter immediately and get more information about the storm.
Snow is leaving residents in some California cities stunned
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.
Over a foot of snow fell in some parts of the high desert.
Snow blanketed the Pinon Hills and Phelan communities in San Bernardino County, with some residents seen walking through thick snow. Others took advantage of this rare event to ski the White Mountains.
“Parts of the Inland Empire near Fontana, Rialto and Devore have now picked up more snow this winter than New York City and Philadelphia,” the National Weather Service in San Diego said Saturday.
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.
Los Angeles sees more than 2 inches of rain in a day
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.
In the Valencia neighborhood of Santa Clarita, about 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles, county officials said heavy rains eroded banks at an RV park and swept several motorhomes into the Santa Clara River. In the video an RV flipped over on its side and a large tree fell into the river. A representative from the RV park said no one was injured.
“I’m really shocked at the way people don’t pay attention to the water coming in,” resident Edwin Tokus told KCAL-TV.
Southern California has seen some very rare and unprecedented days of winter weather — San Diego issued its first blizzard warning on Friday, and Los Angeles issued its first such warning 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.
A California cold snap extends east into adjacent states
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.
Another desert city, Las Vegas, blessed with frequent sunshine, welcomes 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 as a new cold front brings temperatures below normal for several days in March.
Contributing: Josh Dulaney, The Oklahoman; Eric Woomer, Victorville Daily Press; Associated Press