Published: Mon, February 20, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

'Weather bomb', worst storm in years, hits California

'Weather bomb', worst storm in years, hits California

A second storm victim, a 55-year-old man, was electrocuted when a power line fell Friday (Feb. 17) in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, the fire department said.

More than 100 homes were evacuated and hundreds more flights have been delayed or cancelled at Los Angeles International Airport as winds of more than 70mph battered the US West Coast.

Thousands of Los Angeles County residents remained without power early Saturday, while road crews scrambled to fix sinkholes throughout the area, including one in Studio City that swallowed two vehicles Friday night.

"This storm could have a significant impact across Southern California, causing damage and flash floods", said Dan Gregoria, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Southwest Airlines Co said it had canceled more than 250 flights in California, as the storm caused disruptions at several airports.

The storm packing winds of up to 80 miles per hour began early Friday, quickly turning parking garages into waterfalls.

After five years of drought, a series of storms have filled state reservoirs.

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

Total rainfall predictions were as high as almost 10 inches (25 centimeters) in some areas, with rain failing at a rate of more than an inch (up to 3 centimeters) per hour.

Forecasters expect heavy rain throughout Monday for much of Northern California.

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They were discovered when a fire service helicopter tried to rescue those gripping to their cars for safety as their vehicles were washed down one of the town's flooded streets.

In a sign of the power of the winds, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to more than 150 reports of downed electrical wires.

Southern California is now facing what forecasters are calling the most powerful storm of the season. Rain will change to snow between 6-8 thousand feet, and several feet may pile up in the highest terrain.

At one point, the National Weather Service said it recorded a wind gust approaching San Diego Country at a speed of 120.7 kph (75 mph).

By evening, Ventura county and northern Los Angeles county had recorded 24-hour rain totals of up to 7.5 inches (19cm), with the San Marcos mountain pass in Santa Barbara county receiving almost 8.5 inches.

In San Bernardino County, two lanes remained closed early Saturday after a section of the southbound Interstate-15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass collapsed. Parts of Ventura County have seen totals of more than 6 inches.

The city of Duarte, located near the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles, ordered 180 homes to evacuate today ahead of the storm, and voluntary evacuation orders were issued for Camarillo Springs, reported the Weather Channel.

Officials reduced the water levels at the dam in preparation for the new storm. There will likely be a 12-hour period of rainfall, and half of that will be "intense", he said.

The plume of moisture stretching far out over the Pacific was expected to arrive early Friday and last through the day and into Saturday.

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