LOS ANGELES (AP) - A storm walloped parts of California with up to 7 inches of rain and spawned minor flooding, mudslides and road closures Monday, but forecasters warn the bad weather's real impact may be yet to come.
More than 3 additional inches of rain expected across the region by Wednesday will hit already saturated hillsides, increasing the possibility of slides and flash floods, said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service.
The relentless rains that pounded California through the weekend smashed rainfall records, caused numerous traffic accidents, downed trees and forced the cancellation of some horse races.
The weather service said rainfall accumulation could reach 20 inches in some isolated locations by Wednesday, when the first phase of the storm is expected to pass. After a brief respite, it is forecast to return late Christmas Day. A 20-mile stretch of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard was closed to commuters after a rock and mud slide Sunday night. The California Highway Patrol said no one was hurt.
Eastbound Highway 71 in Pomona was closed because of potholes and flooding, and a number of mountain roads were closed.
The system hit the state Friday after a large storm front moving out of the Gulf of Alaska met with subtropical, moist air coming across the Pacific Ocean. In Kern County, officials declared an emergency after two days of intense rain, a move that provides responders with faster access to country resources. The Bakersfield Californian reported that the rains left many neighborhoods around the county dealing with high water. Some roads were closed and some homeowners stacked sandbags in hopes of staying dry.
The Los Angeles area, including downtown, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, received 3 inches to 4 inches of rainfall, while some northern mountain areas were hit with more than 7 inches. Rainfall records weren't just broken, they were obliterated. The weather service said 3.45 inches of rain fell in Pasadena during three days. The old record was 1.5 inches in 1987. The Santa Maria River briefly overran its banks Sunday and caused flooding in Guadelupe in Santa Barbara County, forcing an underdetermined number of people to leave their homes.