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Snowstorm moves east from California

Feb. 20, 2013 at 5:29 PM

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- About 30 million people in 18 states are under a storm watch or warning as snow and icy conditions that struck California move to the east, forecasters said.

The California Highway Patrol said on its website two major highways that had been shut down due to weather were reopened to traffic.

A section of California Highway 58 in Kern County was shut down Tuesday after a snowstorm trapped "hundreds of vehicles." The CHP said Interstate 5 -- the major north-south route for traffic from Southern California to the north -- was re-opened after having been shut down early Wednesday due to snow and ice.

The storm, barreling out of the Gulf of Alaska, brought tornadoes Tuesday to Tehama and Glenn counties in Northern California. Hamilton City, in Glenn County, was pelted with hail.

Residents took pictures and video of a tornado or funnel cloud that tore the roof off a storage building south of Gerber, the Chico (Calif.) Enterprise-Record reported Wednesday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Johnnie Powell called the tornado "weak" and said its wind speeds ranged between 40 mph and 70 mph.

Flagstaff, Ariz., received 3-5 inches of snow by Wednesday morning, with 5-7 inches more expected, the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff reported Wednesday.

A winter storm set to emerge from the Rockies Wednesday night will bring blizzard conditions to portions of the Central Plains, Accuweather.com reported.

The storm will move through the Upper Midwest and bring snow, wind and cold to areas from California to Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

The biggest threat of heavy snow lies in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, with the possibility of whiteout conditions, CNN said Wednesday, adding 2 inches of snow, along with freezing rain, are predicted for St. Louis, and Chicago can expect 4 inches of snow.

Accumulating snow may reach as far north as Minneapolis with significant snow likely over southern Wisconsin, forecasters said.

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