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Chilly storm snarls freeways, knocks out power

April 13, 2012 |  3:24 pm

Snow600

It may not be rush hour yet in Southern California, but it may as well be as stormy weather continues to create bumper-to-bumper traffic on slick freeways.

A total of 249 accidents were reported on L.A. County freeways from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, compared to 68 accidents during the same five-hour period last Friday, when there was no rain, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Saul Gomez.

“All you need is one incident and everything gets backed up,” Gomez said.

Traffic is crawling on the 10 Freeway from the 405 to downtown Los Angeles and on the 5 from Burbank to the 110 Freeway connector.

There were no fatalities reported so far and no current closures, he said.

But officials were considering shutting down the 5 over the Grapevine on Friday evening if snow makes the road too dangerous for motorists.

Scattered power outages also have been reported in L.A. A Department of Water and Power spokeswoman said that about 5,000 customers in Exposition Park, Gramercy Park, Del Rey and Westlake were without power.

Southern California Edison spokeswoman Lauren Bartlett could not provide a total number of estimated homes in Edison's service area that were affected. But she said about 4,700 homes in Palos Verdes, Santa Monica and West Hollywood were without power. 

Bartlett said crews were repairing the damage but could not say when power might be restored to those customers.

As temperatures around Los Angeles County dipped into the low 50s, the snow level was expected to drop to 3,500 feet in the mountains. Eight to 14 inches of snow is expected to fall above 5,500 feet.

South-to-southwest winds were projected to  blow across mountain areas, gusting to 55 mph.

“Anyone planning to head toward the mountains should check road conditions,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

In northern Orange County, the National Weather Service warned that a severe thunderstorm was on the way with a small chance of a tornado forming.

That warning expired at 2:30 p.m. without a tornado materializing, but a wind advisory remained in effect until 11 p.m.

Gusts along the coast were expected to reach speeds greater than 60 mph.

The weekend in both counties is expected to be cool, breezy and dry with partly cloudy skies on Saturday and sunshine on Sunday. Temperatures will range from the upper 50s to the lower 70s.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez and Matt Stevens

Photo: Mojeeh Joy Sadeghpour, a teacher from Santa Monica, walks through Frazier Park in a heavy snowfall Friday morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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