Winter storm brings rare blizzard warning to southern California

Winter storm brings rare blizzard warning to California as record heat blankets other parts of US picture: @CHPFortTejon metrograb

Parts of southern California are under blizzard warnings as winter freezes parts of the state, including Interstate-5 between Los Angeles and Kern County (Image: Twitter/@CHPFortTejon)

A winter storm triggered rare blizzard warnings in southern California as snow began to dust the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles County.

Rain and hail began to fall in southern California Thursday night as the storm approached from the Pacific Ocean. The rain began to turn to snow as temperatures began to plummet.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a blizzard warning for parts of Los Angeles County around 4 a.m. Friday. It will currently remain in effect until 4pm on Friday.

It is the first blizzard warning in drought-stricken Los Angeles County since February 4, 1989.

Interstate-80 is covered in snow near Floriston, California (Image: AP)

Mountainous parts of the county could see up to 4 or 5 feet of snow, the NWS said. Storms in the mountains could sustain wind gusts of up to 80 mph.

The storm is expected to continue dumping rain in southern California through Saturday.

Although the blizzard warning does not extend into the city limits of Los Angeles itself, the NWS is warning residents to take precautions for the possibility of flooding or avalanches.

“There is the potential for widespread snow impacts and road closures, including whiteout and blizzard conditions with an increased avalanche threat,” the agency said. “Impacts from the rain include hazardous travel with road flooding, possible river flooding and mud and debris flows from recently burned areas.”

The NWS also confirmed that snow or graupel – soft hail that looks like snow – fell at the monitoring station on Mount Lee – where the Hollywood Sign is located.

Another blizzard warning was issued for the Sierra Nevada mountains, where blizzards are much more common this time of year.

Meanwhile, several communities in neighboring Ventura County were issued evacuation warnings as the storm made landfall.

Gusset warnings – large eddies of seawater that look like tornadoes – were issued for coastal areas of Ventura County, including the cities of Santa Barbara and Port Hueneme.

Forecasters also warned of severe hail and possible “landfalls” – another type of cyclone similar to a tornado – near San Augustine, Oxnard and Las Cruces.

Earlier this week, a devastating ice storm froze large parts of the upper Midwest, including much of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

Cal Transit has closed sections of Interstate-5, including the section known as the Grapevine, which connects the state’s Central Valley to Los Angeles.

In Michigan, severe ice buildup on power lines caused outages in several areas of the state. About 730,000 customers were still without power Friday, mostly concentrated in the state’s southeastern Detroit suburbs.

Meanwhile, the Southeast and parts of the Mid-Atlantic are setting warm records for February. Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina over the weekend.

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