Californians Brace for Latest Set of Wintry Storms; 3 Die in Avalanche

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Authorities ended their search for those missing after avalanches in California, confirming three people had died and a snowboarder had walked out of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The male snowboarder, whose name was not disclosed, was released from the hospital after spending the night in the Wrightwood area, and authorities said they had accounted for the missing.

Meanwhile, swaths of California braced for another bout of heavy weather Saturday as a fresh series of storms swirled toward the state.

Authorities were on full alert for mudslides and flash floods in areas denuded by last year's wildfires.

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Thompson said up to 8 inches of rain would fall in the hills outside Los Angeles starting Saturday evening and area ski resorts could be pounded by as much as 3 feet of powder.

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"There's going to be very significant impacts," Thompson said. "Debris and mudflows will be a great concern."

Several storms have been squeezing rain onto Southern California since Monday. Some areas have received more moisture in that time than during the entire rainy season last year.

The avalanches swept backcountry slopes in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles on Friday, killing Michael McKay, 23, of Wrightwood, an off-duty ski patroller from the Mountain High resort. He was killed in the first of the three slides.

Searchers found another skier, Darren Coffee, in a second avalanche late Friday officials said. He was declared dead at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center early Saturday, a few hours after rescuers pulled him from a slide in the San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy Cory Kennedy said. The cause of death was not immediately known, nor were Coffee's age and hometown.

Angeles National Forest spokesman Stanton Florea said an avalanche advisory was issued for the ski area at nearby Mount Baldy, a 10,000-foot peak about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and the lifts were closed.

Elsewhere, residents of four Orange County canyons were urged to follow a voluntary evacuation order.

County officials said the order would take effect noon Saturday for residents of Modjeska, Harding, Silverado and Williams canyons, scarred by wildfires last fall.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Orange County between midnight Saturday through Sunday morning.

In Los Angeles, two cars were submerged almost to the door handles on a flooded street in Hancock Park on Friday and a Metrolink train on a morning commute into the city hit a slide of mud and rocks on the tracks. The stranded train was pulled free by another train and 2,000 passengers were delayed by 2 1/2 hours, Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said.

Steady rain soaked much of Northern California as well.

Rain caused delays of up to two hours Friday morning at San Francisco International Airport, and officials expected such delays to continue throughout the day.

Residents in the Marin County towns of San Anselmo and Fairfax are were asked to leave their homes and businesses because of flooding from a nearby creek.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.