Storms sweep the US from coast to coast causing frigid temps, power outages and traffic accidents


BOSTON (AP) — Heavy rain and quarter-sized hail fell in Southern California Sunday as the National Weather Service predicted lightning and wind gusts approaching 60 mph (97 kph) in the mountain area earlier in the day.

The California storm was moving south from the Sierra Nevada, where areas around Lake Tahoe received about a foot (30 cm) of new snow and Mammoth Mountain reported up to 18 inches (45 cm) by Sunday morning. A day earlier, the resort was forced to close several ski lifts after a 91-mph (147-kph) wind gust was recorded.

A 35-year-old woman was rescued after being swept away in the storm-swollen Los Angeles River, the LA Fire Department said. She was airlifted to a hospital with minor injuries and hypothermia, the department said.

The National Weather Service also warned of what it called a significant winter storm over central regions of the country through Monday.

“The winter storm will be high-impact and an extensive system producing widespread heavy snow and gusty winds that will persist over parts of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest,” the agency said in an online post.

Heavy snow is expected to spread across central and eastern Montana and expand into the northern Plains and upper Midwest through Sunday and into Monday. There is a greater than 70% chance of at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow moving from central South Dakota to northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, the weather service reported.

Police across the Northeast reported hundreds of traffic accidents as cars spun out and drivers grappled with icy roads, while Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston also saw heavy rain and flooding,

Thousands of hardy souls across New England spent Sunday digging out after a major weekend storm dumped more than 2 feet (0.6 meters) of snow in some areas, which caused multiple road accidents, downed power lines and trees and left hundreds of thousands in the dark, some perhaps for days, in Vermont, New Hampshire and most of Maine.

Many areas of the Northeast saw totals of 8 inches to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of snow, and some of the highest totals exceeded 30 inches (76 centimeters) in south central Vermont, said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

“So overall, it was a pretty significant winter storm and for some areas that was some of the most snow they’ve seen all winter with a single storm,” Taylor said.

Central Maine Power, the state’s largest utility, said crews began clearing damage and fixing downed lines Sunday, but the company anticipated a multi-day effort in areas hit hardest by the storm. By late Sunday, about 170,000 customers were without power in Maine.

“Damage to trees, poles, and wires was significant overnight on Saturday, and our assessors are taking stock of the damage today so we can begin restoring power to our customers as quickly and as safely as possible,” Central Maine Power spokesman Jon Breed said.

In Portland, Maine, city officials opened a warming center at the East End Community School for residents without power who needed a warm place to visit, charge electronics or sleep overnight from Sunday evening to Monday morning.

Another 54,000 customers were without power in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Department of Safety announced Sunday it had activated an emergency operations center to help local communities clean clean up from the storm, including those with significant power outages.

In New York, more than 57,000 customers were without power late Sunday, down from more than 90,000 earlier in the day. Areas north of New York City were among the hardest hit, according to online maps from National Grid and PowerOutage.us, a power outage tracking website.

In New York City, floodwaters snarled subway service, closed part of the Cross Island Parkway and trapped motorists on flooded roads through Central Park, where more than 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) of rain fell. On Fifth Avenue, a giant tree fell over several cars, prompting a road closure.

In Lodi, New Jersey, flooding from the Saddle River inundated nearby roads.

The combination of sleet, freezing rain and heavy wet snow that took down trees and power lines also was blamed for hundreds of delayed and canceled flights at area airports.

Fans of cold weather, including skiers, reveled in the snow from coast to coast.

Kevin Bell, vice president of marketing for Loon Mountain in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, said the more snow New England gets, the better it is for ski resorts operating in the late season.

Taylor said another significant winter storm is developing in the West and will continue through Monday across much of the Rockies, the Plains and the upper Midwest. The National Weather Service warned of heavy snow and blizzard conditions for the northern Plains and Upper Midwest persisting to Tuesday.

That system is expected to bring heavy snowfall across portions of Wisconsin, Minnesota, much of the Dakotas and even down into Nebraska and western Kansas with the potential of 8 to 12 inches of snow, with higher amounts across the eastern Dakotas and portions of central Minnesota, Taylor said.

“We’re looking at a pretty strong area of low pressure that’ll develop across Kansas tonight and then quickly lift up toward the upper Midwest by late Monday into early Tuesday,” he said.

A winter weather advisory also was issued through Sunday night for parts of northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff to the New Mexico border with up to a half foot (15 centimeters) of snow possible at upper elevations and winds gusting to 40 mph (64 kph).

The weather service said snow showers were expected through Sunday night at elevations around 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1.5 to 1.8 kilometers).

Unsettled weather with additional rain and snow showers were forecast for the Flagstaff, Arizona, area Monday and Tuesday with another storm system potentially moving into northern Arizona next weekend.

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Associated Press writers Phil Marcelo in East Meadow, New York; Julie Walker in New York City; Walter Berry in Phoenix; and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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