December 29, 2004 in Nation/World

At least 3 killed as fierce storm pounds California with rainfall

John Antczak Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A resident of Ontario in Southern California waits for assistance as she is stranded in a flooded city intersection Tuesday after a heavy storm hit the area.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – A powerful storm pounded California for a second day Tuesday, flooding freeways and desert roads, tossing boats ashore and triggering a rockslide that blocked Highway 1 on the central coast.

At least three deaths were linked to the storm that roared down from the Gulf of Alaska and into the nation’s most populous state on Monday.

The California storm is not related to the devastating tsunami in South Asia, according to the National Weather Service.

One victim was apparently killed as he tried to surf big waves at Montara State Beach south of San Francisco. Also, a trucker died in a crash on an interstate north of Los Angeles.

Downtown Los Angeles got a record 3.98 inches of rain by Tuesday afternoon, topping the 2.09 inches set on Dec. 28, 1931.

More heavy weather is on its way, according to forecasters. A potentially stronger system is due to enter northern California late today, bringing heavy snow and high winds to the Sierra Nevada and eastern parts of the state through Friday.

Flash-flood warnings were posted Tuesday in southeastern California for parts of San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. Authorities reported flooding along highways near Joshua Tree National Park, and warned motorists to be alert crossing washes and driving near creeks.

Residents were ordered to evacuate about 50 homes in the San Bernardino County town of Devore, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. A flash flood on Christmas Day 2003 killed 16 people near there.

San Francisco and surrounding areas had clear skies after heavy rain Monday, but light rain fell elsewhere Tuesday in northern California and in the Central Valley, while snow showers dusted the Sierra Nevada.

A quarter-mile of Highway 1 in southern Monterey County was closed Tuesday after heavy rain caused a rockslide near Lucia, about 25 miles south of Big Sur.

At Santa Barbara, the storm threw ashore a 60-foot fishing boat, a 35-foot trimaran, a cabin cruiser and three sailboats. None of the vessels appeared salvageable, Harbor Patrol Officer Bob Brandenburg said. Winds overnight ranged from 35 mph to 45 mph and surf reached about 7 feet.

The Tuesday morning commute was treacherous across Southern California, with hundreds of crashes reported on wet freeways in Los Angeles and San Diego, the state Highway Patrol said.

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