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LOS ANGELES – A California storm has moved on from the soggy north to the desperately dry south, which has seen hardly a drop in recent weeks.
Flash flood watches and warnings were issued for areas up and down the state, especially those where brushfires had denuded hillsides and mountain slopes.
That included the Central Coast, where torrential rains fell in the area around Hearst Castle late Thursday. A nearby mountain spot where a huge wildfire burned in summer had received three inches of rain, and it was falling at more than a half-inch per hour.
The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for the burn area, saying debris flows were a strong possibility.
Most of the Los Angeles area was soaked by a heavy burst of rain Thursday night that is expected to continue into Friday.
In Hollywood, hundreds of people were pelted by rain for hours as they stood outside trying to get into a rare Metallica concert at a small venue, the Henry Fonda Theater.
In Lancaster, north of Los Angeles, people out in the rain and wind were happy for the wintry holiday vibe.
"Just all of the sudden a little storm is kicking in," Kara McDonald told KTTV-TV as she shopped in an elf hat. "We can sit around the fire and drink some hot chocolate."
The storm caused worry in some spots like burn areas, where fire station were handing out sandbags.
"We're concerned about mudslides and flooding," Los Angeles fire spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.
Get out quickly if "things go bad," she urged residents of foothill and burned areas. "Don't take the risk of being trapped in a mudslide."
Earlier Thursday, the San Francisco Bay Area was hit with one of its heaviest storms in an already wet season, with a small town in the North Bay receiving nearly 7 inches of rain in 24 hours.
More than 100 flights in and out of San Francisco International Airport were cancelled and about 360 were delayed for minutes to hours because of weather concerns, said Brian Horne, airport duty manager.
Venado, a remote former lumber town west of Healdsburg, was hit the hardest as the storm moved from the North Bay into San Francisco and the Central Coast.
Some creeks in those counties were over flood stages.
San Francisco recorded more than an inch of rain in 24 hours, with areas further north seeing 2 to 4 inches and 5 to nearly 7 inches recorded in some areas of the Sierra Nevadas, along with at least one wind gust of over 100 mph.
In Healdsburg in Sonoma County, antique dealer Greg Sheldon said driving conditions were difficult there.
"Some of our streets are flooded here. I had two feet of water in one of my lanes," said Sheldon, who works at Antique Harvest. "There's just tons of water coming off, the ground is so saturated right now. Every field is a big lake."