LOS ANGELES – Mudslides trapped people in their homes Monday and forced others to flee as Southern California was soaked by yet another of the powerful storms that have pounded the region this winter.
At least four deaths were blamed on the weather and part of the area's commuter rail service was halted.
Rescuers pulled three people from about 10 feet of mud that flowed into a town house in Hacienda Heights (search), a suburb east of Los Angeles. One woman was flown to a hospital while the other two escaped with only minor injuries, said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mark Savage (search).
That same mudslide had forced the evacuation of 30 people from five units at the complex, as well as residents of five homes on the hill above it, Savage said.
The latest batch of rain, snow and hail started battering the region Sunday, part of a series of storms that arrived Friday and was expected to continue into Tuesday.
Northern California was hit by severe thunderstorms, hail and a pair of tornadoes Monday afternoon, causing minor damage in Yolo and Sacramento counties. "The impact of the storm lifted my car up in the air and back down ... about 15 inches," motorist Woodrow Parker told KCRA-TV in Sacramento.
Since Thursday, downtown Los Angeles (search) had gotten about 6.5 inches of rain. The city's total since July 1, the start of the region's "water year," has reached 31.40 inches, making it already the fifth wettest on record, said weather service forecaster Bruce Rockwell. The record, 38.18 inches, was set in 1883-1884.
Besides the mudslide victims in Hacienda Heights, mudslides and flooding chased about 30 people from 11 homes in Glendale, north of downtown Los Angeles, officials said. Three homes on an unstable hill were evacuated in nearby Pasadena and up to 10 homes were flooded in Fullerton.
The California Highway Patrol reported more than 300 crashes in a 14-hour period, compared with between 50 and 75 accidents on a normal, dry day.
A giant man-made lake in San Diego County came within an inch of spilling over a dam for the first time since 1998. The lake empties into a river and the overflow was not a threat, authorities said.
Early Monday, a mudslide killed one man in a house in the city's Woodland Hills area in the San Fernando Valley, coroner's office officials said. In Orange County, a 16-year-old girl was killed by boulders that crashed into her family's apartment in a rural area east of Irvine, said Joseph Luckey, supervising deputy coroner.
In Los Angeles' Sun Valley area, a repair worker died late Sunday when he fell into a 30-foot-deep sinkhole created by the storm, said Fire Department spokesman Melissa Kelley.
In northern California, a woman died in an avalanche Sunday in rugged back country north of Lake Tahoe, where as much as 20 inches of snow had fallen since Thursday. Two other skiers escaped after they were trapped, officials said.
In Orange County, authorities were keeping an eye on four homes in Laguna Beach that had been evacuated some days ago because of ground movement. In the wealthy Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, a swimming pool tumbled down the hill from a multimillion-dollar home — but somehow remained intact. Three homes nearby were evacuated.
In the coastal community of La Conchita, where a landslide killed 10 people last month, six of the 39 people still living there elected to leave during the night because of the heavy rain and a steady flow of mud on the bluffs behind the town, said Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Bill Flannigan. Warnings had been issued earlier and the community about 70 miles north of Los Angeles was described as a ghost town Saturday after other residents moved out.
Metrolink canceled some commuter train service Monday along the Ventura County line north of Moorpark because of the heavy rain. Amtrak had canceled Los Angeles-to-Santa Barbara commuter rail service Friday night because of mudslides in Moorpark; northbound service on the line remained out Monday.
As many as 230,000 customers have had their power interrupted since Friday and about 7,000 customers remained without power Monday, authorities said.