LOS ANGELES - A powerful Pacific storm blew into southern California on Friday, unleashing wind-driven heavy rains that forecasters said could become the strongest in years if not decades.
A 55-year-old man was electrocuted by a downed power line Friday in Sherman Oaks on Sepulveda Boulevard just south of Burbank Boulevard.
In the Studio City area of Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed two cars, the second on live TV as viewers watched it teeter on the edge before plunging in. In California it's caused sudden flooding and many people have had to be rescued from their cars.
According to the Los Angeles Times, firefighters have had to come to the rescue of 15 people trapped in their cars after a flash flood swept cars away in Sun Valley, and rescue crews have taken to the water in boats to rescue 7 people and 2 dogs from flooded homes bordering the Los Angeles river.
"At one point the wind was so strong I'm surprised it didn't blow my windows out", retiree Phoenix Hocking said in a Facebook message from Carpinteria.
As with another big storm that hit the region earlier this winter, these will be the result of a weather system known as an "atmospheric river", which moves high concentrations of water vapor from the tropical Pacific and blasts it at the West Coast, like a fire hose. Forecasters noted that as of 6 p.m. Friday, "the heaviest rainfall is now occurring across the eastern portion of the county, where a flash flood warning is in effect for rainfall rates exceeding one inch per hour".
Sunday's impending storm is the latest in a series of disturbances that have dumped much-needed rain in the drought-stricken state beginning last month, he said.
One man was found dead in a submerged vehicle after others were rescued, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said. "It will be strong enough to cause downed trees and power lines and structural damage", Harrison warned.
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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 pounding rain was accompanied by gusting and powerful winds, which reached up to 70 miles per hour.
The rain was so furious a parking garage in Los Angeles turned into a waterfall.
More than 100,000 people across Southern California lost power and evacuation orders were issued for areas affected by last summer's brush fires as police feared potential mudslides. "The last storm we had it started coming in the garage, so this time I am just going to stop it before it happens", said Josh Jones of Oxnard.
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.
Fisher said to expect rain to arrive late Thursday night into early Friday.
Rainfall totals ranged from 3.5 inches in Santa Barbara to 9 inches in Santa Ynez Mountain Range, and Ojai in Ventura County got 6 inches of rain, the National Weather Service said Friday evening. Authorities said the San Joaquin River is reaching flood stage, and they are warning residents in Manteca to be ready to evacuate in case it reaches unsafe levels.