Rain in California shatters records


A driver navigates a flooded stretch of the Great Highway in San Francisco (AP)

A storm pounding California with record rain and heavy snow has spawned minor flooding, mudslides, evacuations and road closures – and forecasters are warning that the bad weather’s worst impact may be yet to come.

Rainfall records fell, numerous traffic accidents snarled roads, trees tumbled and even some horse races had to be cancelled as virtually the entire state was affected.

Jamie Meier of the National Weather Service said some locations in Southern California received more than 12 inches (30cm) of rain, the most rainfall in one storm event since 2005.

The storm is expected to intensify Tuesday night and Wednesday, with between five and 10 more inches (12 and 25 more centimetres).

The stormy weather began hitting the northern part of the state late on Thursday and southern areas on Friday, after a large storm front moving out of the Gulf of Alaska met with subtropical, moist air coming across the Pacific Ocean.

In the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Sugar Bowl ski resort received as much as 60 inches (1.5 metres) of snow at upper elevations.

Elsewhere, a 20-mile (30km) stretch of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard was closed to commuters after a rock and mudslide Sunday night. The California Highway Patrol said no one was hurt.

In the southern San Joaquin Valley there was sporadic flooding of single-family homes but no deaths or injuries had been reported, Kern County Fire Department spokesman Sean Collins said.

The Los Angeles area, including downtown, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, received 3 inches to 4 inches (7 to 10 centimetres) of rainfall, while mountain areas got much more.

Rainfall records weren’t just broken, they were obliterated. The weather service said 3.45 inches (8.76 centimetres) of rain fell in Pasadena on Sunday, shattering the old mark of 1.5 inches (3.81 centimetres) on the same date in 1987. Since the storm began, the city had received more than 5 inches (13 centimetres) as of early Monday.

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