Huge Storm Slams Southern California

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.

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.

One victim was apparently killed as he tried to surf big waves at Montara State Beach (search) south of San Francisco. Also, a trucker died in a crash on an interstate north of Los Angeles and a sanitation worker was killed in the San Fernando Valley after touching a fallen power line.

Power outages affected more than 100,000 customers in Southern California.

Rain from the storm totaled between 12 and 13 inches in areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, officials said.

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 was on its way, according to forecasters. A potentially stronger system was due to enter northern California late Wednesday, 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 (search), 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 (search).

At Santa Barbara, the storm threw ashore a 60-foot fishing boat, 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.

"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.