A powerful storm has pounded California for a second day, flooding freeways and desert roads, tossing boats ashore and triggering a rockslide that blocked the central coast highway.
Two deaths were linked to the storm that roared down from the Gulf of Alaska and into the nation’s most populous state on Monday.
One victim was apparently killed as he tried to surf big waves at Montara State Beach south of San Francisco. A lorry driver died in a crash on an interstate north of Los Angeles.
Downtown Los Angeles got a record 3.98 inches of rain by last night, topping the 2.09 inches set on December 28, 1931.
More heavy weather was on its way, according to forecasters. A potentially stronger system was due to enter northern California tonight, bringing heavy snow and high winds to the Sierra Nevada and eastern parts of the state through Friday.
Flash-flood warnings were posted in south-eastern 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 in northern California and in the Central Valley, while snow showers dusted the Sierra Nevada.
A quarter of a mile of Highway 1 in southern Monterey County was closed after heavy rain caused a rockslide near Lucia, about 25 miles south of Big Sur.
At Santa Barbara, the storm threw ashore a 60ft fishing boat, 35ft trimaran, a cabin cruiser and three sailboats. Winds overnight ranged from 35 to 45mph and surf reached about seven 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.
“We’ve had a lot of fender-benders, a lot of overturned vehicles, and vehicles spinning out and going off the road,” CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos said.