A powerful storm system continues to travel across the western United States toward New Mexico Saturday with a prediction of widespread snow, freezing temperatures and gusty winds after leaving much of the Western U.S. soaked.
The fierce storm has led to at least five deaths, with flooding and water rescues reported in California, stranded drivers in Nevada and hundreds of crashes across northern Arizona and New Mexico. A meterorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, Jennifer Palucki, called the approaching weather a “big kahuna” of a storm. Conditions were expected to quickly deteriorate Saturday night, she said. “All that artic air across New Mexico laid the groundwork. Then we have this bigger upper-level storm system over southern California and ahead of that is this nice stream of moisture coming up over New Mexico,” she said. “That makes a good recipe for snow.”
In California, the storms are linked to three deaths. In Oakland, one person was found dead near downed power lines and another crashed his vehicle into a tree while apparently trying to avoid debris in the road, officials said. A 52 year old woman died in Yuba County, north of Sacramento, where a tree fell on the parked car she was sitting in. A homeless man had to be rescued from a tree by helicopter in Southern California and four others were plucked from an island where they were trapped in the swollen Santa Ana River in San Bernardino County.
In Nevada, snow in higher elevations in rural eastern Lincoln County stranded up to 60 cars Friday according to dispatcher Shannon Miller. There were no injuries reported but U.S. 93 was closed.
In eastern New Mexico, freezing rain left highways slick and state police say a 4 year old girl was killed when her family’s car slide across U.S. 70 and overturned on Friday.
Firefighters in Tucson Arizona recovered the body of a man who was swept away Friday by high water in the Santa Cruz River. Authorities across the state responded to hundreds of vehicle crashes as the storm dropped rain on normally dry roads. Phoenix received 1.6 inches of rain making Friday the second wettest November day on record.
The storm is predicted to continue across the country where it is expected to cause havoc to the northern east coast.
We urge anyone headed out for road trips this weekend check whether reports and take appropriate precautions.