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Wind slams SoCal; blizzard in Midwest

Dec. 19, 2012 at 3:40 PM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Heavy wind blew through California as a storm system made its way north to the upper Midwest where blizzard-like conditions are expected, forecasters said.

About 50,000 people lost power when high winds downed trees and power lines in the Los Angeles area, where winds gusted to 35-40 mph around the city and 50 mph in higher elevations, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, reported Wednesday. High wind warnings were posted until 2 p.m. PST Wednesday.

Weather contributed to a 60-car pileup Tuesday evening that resulted in the closure of northbound lanes along Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border, after a tractor-trailer skidded on an icy portion of the roadway and crashed into a concrete wall, the California Highway Patrol said.

Northbound lanes of the freeway were reopened at 5 a.m. Wednesday, the Medford (Ore.) Mail Tribune reported.

Two people were hospitalized with injuries, six were treated and released and an undetermined number of stranded motorists were taken to the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds for shelter from frigid overnight temperatures, the newspaper said.

The system is expected to bring blizzard-like conditions to a wide swath of the Midwest, stretching from Kansas northeast through Iowa Wednesday and into Wisconsin and the Michigan upper peninsula by Thursday morning.

Wind gusts of 50-60 mph will be accompanied by heavy snow, making travel conditions treacherous, Accuweather.com said. Visibility will be near zero at times.

Snow is in the forecast for Chicago, Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis, and flights in the region could be delayed or canceled, Accuweather said.

A blizzard warning is in effect for Des Moines from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday, the Des Moines Register said, with 6 to 12 inches of snow expected in that time.

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