Thousands without power amid California winter storms

STORY: Nearly 85,000 households and businesses were without power in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, as unusual winter storms continued to sweep parts of California with rain, snow and biting cold temperatures.

The state transport agency said heavy snow forced the steep grade of Interstate 5, known as the Grapevine, to be closed.

The I-5 is the largest highway leading north out of city.

Several more southern points of the freeway in and around Los Angeles were also closed, due to flooding.

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

While the National Weather Service warned residents of state capital Sacramento to avoid travel from Sunday through Wednesday, as rain and snow started up again after a reprieve on Saturday.

On Twitter, the agency said:

"Extreme impacts from heavy snow & winds will cause extremely dangerous to impossible driving conditions & likely widespread road closures & infrastructure impacts!"

The next set of storms, expected to hit on Sunday, will bring wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour in the Sacramento Valley, and up to 70 miles per hour in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.