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‘Extreme impact’ as tornadoes, epic snow unleashed in rare winter storm

A rare winter storm that dumped unprecedented snow on southern California has continued its mayhem by triggering tornadoes and wild winds.

Seven tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma as the storm moved eastward, with warnings issued to seek shelter in Okalahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Texas.

Footage showed collapsed houses and overturned cars as the unusual weather event left a trail of destruction.

Wind speeds in northern Texas reportedly clocked 183km/hr which was equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

The National Weather Service predicted the severe conditions would continue through Monday (local time).

It warned of a “deep mid-latitude cyclone” bringing showers and thunderstorms to the Midwest.

It comes after the winter storm caused chaos in parts of California, bringing up to 2m of snow to higher elevations and dumping rain and hail in the flatlands.

Nearly 85,000 households and businesses were without power in Los Angeles and the largest highway, Interstate 5, was closed by heavy snow.

Other southern points of the freeway in and around Los Angeles were closed due to flooding, the California Department of Transportation said.

A rare blizzard hit parts of southern California. Photo: Getty

In Northern California, San Francisco was braced for record cold temperatures on Saturday.

Residents of Sacramento were told to avoid travel from Sunday through Wednesday as rain and snow started up again after a reprieve.

“Extreme impacts from heavy snow and winds will cause extremely dangerous to impossible driving conditions & likely widespread road closures & infrastructure impacts!” the agency said on Twitter.

A massive low-pressure system driven from the Arctic was responsible for the unusual conditions, said Bryan Jackson, a forecaster at the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

In Southern California, “this is a rare case of a cold, significant storm event,” Mr Jackson said.

Snowfall and clouds on the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. Photo: Getty

In a sight that must have delighted many Angelenos on Friday, snowflakes even fell around the Hollywood sign atop Mount Lee in the hills above the city, known for its sunny days and palm trees.

On Saturday, scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms were expected to bring rain, hail and a mixture of snow and moisture called “graupel” to the area, the National Weather Service said.

Even before the latest storm, much of California had experienced an unusually rainy, chilly winter, starting with a spate of deadly “atmospheric river” storms that unleashed widespread flooding, felled trees and triggered mudslides in a state long plagued by drought and wildfires.

-with AAP

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