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Storm Hits West Coast, Tracking Eastward

Published December 8, 2009

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (BRAIN)—Retailers throughout the Midwest are feeling the effects of a powerful storm that ripped through California and the West Coast on Monday.

Northtowne Cycling & Fitness, located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said that sales were brisk on Monday with only a couple inches of snow, as the state prepared for a possible foot or more of snow over the next couple of days.

“I think people were trying to get things done before the storm hits,” said Derek Stepanek, owner of Northtowne Cycling & Fitness. “We were busy selling treadmills and ellipticals. This weather forces people indoors. It works well for us.”

While blizzard like conditions will keep customers away today and Thursday, Stepanek said a break in the weather Friday through Sunday should be good for people wanting to get out of their homes and work on their Christmas shopping.

According to the National Weather Service, this storm is gaining strength as it races eastward.

"The storm system is really strengthening as it goes, and that's usually a recipe for some heavy snowfall and a lot of wind, and that's what we're watching for," said Mike Welvaert of the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to the Associated Press.

Sport Systems, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had a wonderful day of business on Monday, largely because the second floor of their shop is dedicated to ski and snowboard equipment—and because the local mountains got upwards of a foot of snow.

“It was huge,” said owner Duane Kinsley. Ski and snowboard sales help “drive people to our bike department. It creates that extra traffic.”

Most California retailers had to deal with a steady flow of cold rain on Monday, but it didn’t seem to keep consumers away.

Steven’s Bicycles, located in Clovis, California, just outside of Fresno, saw some consistent rain on Monday, but also saw some customers.

“We were busy for repairs,” said mechanic Randy Easley. “We actually had one gentlemen ride his bike in yesterday. Right now it’s pretty clear and I see some people out back on the bike trail.”

Action Sports in Bakersfield, California, probably saw less than an inch of rain. “It was about the same for a Monday,” said manager Sam Ames of his store's sales. “Not a huge change.”

The National Weather Service said the upper elevations of the Sierra mountains could get up to 3 feet of snow, with up to 4 feet forecast for the mountains of southern Utah, according to the Associated Press.

Another series of storms is slated to hit California starting tomorrow.

—Jason Norman

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