Published: Mon, February 20, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

Biggest storm in six years moves into southern California

Biggest storm in six years moves into southern California

At least two people have died after one of California's strongest storms in years brought torrential rain and flash floods to the state.

A 55-year-old man in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, died after apparently being electrocuted by live power lines brought down by a tree, and a person was found dead inside a submerged auto near Victorville, fire officials said. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes, more than 300 flights into LA have been disrupted, and a number of potentially deadly sinkholes have open up along the roads, swallowing cars.

In Studio City, two cars had fallen into a 20-foot wide sinkhole at 4245 N. Laurel Canyon Blvd., two blocks south of Moorpark Street, and one of the drivers had to be rescued by the LAFD.

"As runoff flows into the reservoir, water levels will likely fluctuate but will remain within acceptable and typical depths during times of storm activity", it said. The storm stretched far out into the ocean and was at its strongest late on Friday afternoon.

One of the strongest storms possibly in decades - dubbed a "bombogenesis" - is set to drench California this weekend, prompting fears of flash foods.

Downtown Los Angeles received slightly more than 2 inches of rain from the storm, guaranteeing the city will experience its first above-normal winter rainfall (December to February) since the winter spanning 2010-2011.

High wind warnings have been extended from Southern California on up to the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast, including the Monterey Bay area.

Another person was found dead in a submerged vehicle in Victorville, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, fire officials said on Twitter.

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Southern California residents are cleaning up and taking stock of the damage after Friday's storm, even as scattered showers continue to fall Saturday. The heavy rain and melting snowpack threatened to undermine a spillway at one of the largest dams in the country, which prompted the evacuation of 188,000 residents earlier this week.

The rain was so furious a parking garage in Los Angeles turned into a waterfall.

"Needless to say, impacts from the increased runoff, wind and heavy snow will be considerable", the weather service said.

As much as 10 inches of rain could fall at a rate of 1 inch per hour in parts of southern California on Friday, said the National Weather Service, raising the risk of mudslides. Though the rain is welcome after years of drought, the relentless nature of the storms has been somewhat wearing, Mayberry said.

Winds were said to top more than 80mph in some parts of Los Angeles County, according to Los Angeles Times, with almost 8in (20cm) of rain falling in one area. Rainfall over the next seven days could total more than 12 inches.

The most serious threat remains in the lower region of the state.

The storm dumped 2.77 inches at Long Beach airport, and more than 4 inches of rain fell at Santa Barbara's airport, causing runway flooding that led to it being closed.

Officials reduced the water levels at the dam in preparation for the new storm.

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