Frigid cold holds nation's midsection in icy grip

Feb. 28, 2014 at 1:37 PM
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GLENDORA, Calif., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- While much of the United States Friday was in an arctic grip officials say may have caused one death, Southern California braced for potential flash flooding.

In Bemidji, Minn., investigators found a 6-year-old girl outside near her apartment Thursday morning when the temperature was minus 27 and the wind chill made it feel like 40 below zero, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis reported.

Investigators said they were trying to determine when the child was last seen and how long she was outside. Police found her body inside the building's front entrance.

Officials said the girl "had signs of being exposed to the frigid elements" but were waiting an official cause of death, the Star Tribune said.

Heavy rain began moving into California Thursday, the second storm in two days, prompting officials to order mandatory evacuations for some cities in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times said.

Downtown Los Angeles recorded its first calendar day with an inch or more of rain on Thursday since October 2011, said.

The system is forecast to hang over California at least through Saturday, dumping several inches of rain in some regions before it leaves, the Times said.

Rain and wind interrupted power to thousands of customers north of San Francisco on Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Throughout the Golden State dozens of weather advisories were posted for winter storm, wind, high surf, flood and rain warnings.

Experts said the storm wasn't expected to make much of a dent in California's drought, but Bob Benjamin with the National Weather Service told the Times it was a "a step in the right direction."

"Even though we're getting some consequential rains ... we're still a long ways away from getting toward normalcy," Benjamin said. "This will certainly keep us from going backward, but I don't think it'll bring us up to where we should be."

Mandatory evacuations were posted for about 1,000 homes in Azusa and Glendora, which could face potential mudslides because wildfires stripped the mountains of vegetation.

In Michigan, an Amtrak train was delayed about three hours Thursday night after it was stuck in a snowdrift on a set of CSX tracks, MILive reported.

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said the passenger train was traveling from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Mich., when it turned onto a side track controlled by CSX railroad to allow a freight train to pass. The train was fully operational, with heat and electricity, as the 64 passengers waited, Kulm said.

Detroit area schools were closed Friday because of cold temperatures and wind chills, the Detroit News reported.

"The cold air is pretty much parked across northern and central lower Michigan," National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Considine said.

The latest arctic blast brought subzero temperatures to the Midwest and pushed the thermometer below freezing as far south as Florida, CNN reported.

"We've been able to look at this winter and compare it to the record since 1950, and putting this winter in context it really has been as severe as people think it is," Barbara Mayes Boustead, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told CNN. "This really has been the worst winter in a lot of people's lifetimes. We haven't seen winters like this since the '70s in a lot of places."

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