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Winter storms carry heavy rain, winds

March 8, 2013 at 5:52 PM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, March 8 (UPI) -- A winter storm that pummeled Southern California with high winds and heavy rain was expected to bring snow to Denver and Flagstaff, Ariz., meteorologists said.

The late winter storm, dubbed Triton by the National Weather Service, forced the closure of Interstate 5 Friday morning along a stretch known as the Grapevine north of Los Angeles that is routinely choked by snow and icy conditions. The California Highway Patrol began escorting traffic through the affected portion of the freeway at around 7:30 a.m. PST, 5 hours after I-5 was closed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Forecasters warned precipitation could linger in the Grapevine region through Saturday, the newspaper said.

A winter storm warning was in effect through 10 p.m. PST Friday for the mountain areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, said.

Accuweather said rain was headed for Las Vegas and Phoenix, and snow was in store for Denver and Flagstaff, Ariz.

Wind gusts will likely range from 40-50 mph in Southern California and Arizona, and 50-60 mph in New Mexico and Texas.

Severe weather was expected to persist across central Texas Saturday, pushing warmer air to the eastern parts of the nation, Accuweather.com said. Temperatures could soar into the upper 50s to mid-60s this weekend along the I-95 corridor from Washington to New York.

Winter held its grip on New England Friday as heavy snow from Winter Storm Saturn fell in Massachusetts.

The National Weather Service reported 17.9 inches of snow in Taunton, Mass., as of 1 p.m. Friday. Boston had received 12.9 inches.

Gov. Deval Patrick urged people to delay their commute home Friday evening to give snowplows time to get the roads cleared, The Boston Globe reported.

"It's a good day if you can, if you work in town, to go out on a long lunch and spend time before you head home," Patrick said in a news conference. "Use your common sense. ... Be patient. Take it slow on the roads."

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