Extreme weather hits US
Californians used to wearing flip flops and shorts wrapped up warm Thursday as a rare winter blizzard loomed over Los Angeles, the first in more than 30 years, even as the US east coast basked in summer-like temperatures.
The National Weather Service predicted up to seven feet (2.1 meters) of snow to fall on hills around Los Angeles, warning of "extremely dangerous mountain conditions."
A blizzard warning, in effect since Friday morning, is the first issued in the area since 1989.
"Our DANGEROUS winter storm is still on track. Blizzard conditions are expected in the mountains, with FEET of snowfall. Lower elevations can expect a few inches of rain. "Be prepared for the weather!" NWS Los Angeles issued a tweet.
While snow was not expected in downtown Los Angeles, the city is surrounded by mountains.
On a clear day, the 10,000-foot Mount San Antonio and other peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains can be seen, and their snow-capped summits should be a beautiful sight for city dwellers.
It will be a different story for those attempting to cross mountain passes.
"Areas above the snowline will most likely experience a combination of strong winds and heavy snow," said the NWS in Hanford.
"Travel will be difficult to near impossible during the cold front's passage, particularly over mountain passes."
More snow was expected in the Sierra, where storms in January had left a dense snowpack, along with freezing temperatures.
"Bundle up because it's going to be cold and windy!" said forecasters.
"Wind chills will be dangerous in exposed areas of the high Sierra, with temperatures dropping as low as -30 degrees (Fahrenheit, -34 Celsius)."
'Not good...' –
Other, more winter-hardened parts of the country were also hit Thursday, with power outages in the Great Lakes region.
Forecasters had warned that ice forming on power lines would expose them to damage in high winds.
A volunteer firefighter was killed by a downed power line in Van Buren County, Michigan, according to local media.
The NWS Twin Cities posted a photo of deep snow drifts outside their office, warning drivers to be cautious.
"The drifts on our office sidewalk range in size from 20 to 24 inches. With the average car's ground clearance being 6 to 9 inches, can you imagine colliding with one of these while driving at 45+ MPH? Not good..."
According to flightaware.com, more than 1,000 flights within, into, or out of the United States were cancelled as a result of the severe weather.
Hundreds of schools in the area were closed due to inclement weather.
On Thursday, the northeast was also under a winter storm warning, with hazardous travel conditions in parts of New York state, including Buffalo, where a powerful December blizzard killed dozens.
However, some areas along the coast were experiencing record-breaking temperatures.
Temperatures in the Washington, DC area were expected to reach 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Record warmth is expected today, making it feel more like late May than February," NWS Baltimore-Washington said on Twitter.
"Four of our seven climate sites are expected to set new high temperatures by several degrees."
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