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Updated: December 21, 2010 15:35 IST

Latest powerful storm bears down on California

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A pedestrian passes City Hall in downtown Los Angeles in the rain on December 19, 2010. Photo: AP.
A pedestrian passes City Hall in downtown Los Angeles in the rain on December 19, 2010. Photo: AP.

The latest in a series of powerful storm systems is pelting mountain areas of California with heavy rain, snow and high winds, prompting evacuations and leaving thousands without power.

Virtually the entire state has been affected by the storms that began on Friday, dumping moisture from far Northern California south to San Diego. More than 12 inches of rain have fallen in parts of the Santa Monica Mountains in the south and 13 feet of snow has accumulated at Mammoth Mountain ski resort.

Downtown Los Angeles had received 5 1/4 inches of rain since Friday morning, more than a third of the average annual precipitation.

In the Wrightwood area, about 15 people were evacuated on Monday night after the Sheep Creek Wash overflowed and threatened homes, the San Bernardino County Fire Department told the Los Angeles Times. At least three homes sustained water damage.

Also in San Bernardino County, a woman was rescued from her pickup truck on Monday night after being swept away in rain-swollen Lytle Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Flooding also was reported in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County.

Nearly 21,000 Southern California Edison customers were without power late Monday due to the storm, said Edison spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady. The hardest-hit area was the city of Torrance, south of Los Angeles, with more than 4,600 outages. She said crews would be working throughout the night to restore service.

Unaccustomed to driving and dressing for so much rain, Southern California residents tried to go about their business - creeping on the freeways, dodging puddles downtown and doing last minute holiday shopping.

While adults grumbled, children didn’t seem to mind the rain. Grade-schoolers in rubber boots splashed in the downspouts and pre-teens pretended to be too cool for rain gear.

“I love the rain because we get to stay in during gym class and watch movies. And at lunchtime, the kids run outside and come back all soaked and try to hug you,” said 12-year-old Amy Becerra said as she bounced up and down and giggled.

Her mother, Nancy, who was struggling with an umbrella, disagreed. She complained that the constant rain was “depressing,” kept her inside all weekend and made driving scary.

About 40 residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland were briefly evacuated on Monday morning.

Elsewhere, a small twin-engine airplane was reported missing on a 65-mile flight from Palm Springs to Chino. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says a wreckage was found near Lake Perris but investigators won’t be certain that it’s the missing plane until they can get to the scene on Tuesday, if weather permits.

Residents of La Canada Flintridge were among those keeping a wary eye on the rain after a 250-square-mile wildfire last year denuded a large swath of the San Gabriel Mountains. More than 40 homes in the foothills just north of Los Angeles were damaged or destroyed by a mudslide in February.

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