Storms Make Surprise Return to California

Rain, hail and lightning made a surprise return to saturated Southern California on Friday, and authorities warned of avalanche danger on a towering mountain.

Scattered storms erupted during what was supposed to be a break in waves of foul weather that have made this the third-rainiest season in Los Angeles since record-keeping began in the 19th century.

Angeles National Forest (search) officials warned that areas of Mount Baldy (search), about 40 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, were closed because of significant avalanche danger. A ski area on the 10,064-foot mountain remained open, but one parking area was closed.

In Los Angeles County (search), a large thunderstorm complex hung over the San Fernando and southern Santa Clarita valleys, producing afternoon hail, strong winds and lightning.

To the east and south, flash flood watches were posted into the night for areas of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties.

The unusually heavy rains — 33.87 inches in Los Angeles so far this season — have sent hillsides slumping, damaging or destroying many homes and roads, and turned creeks and washes into raging rivers.