California storm brings power outages, shuts down highway

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Tens of thousands of people lost power last Sunday after a powerful winter storm swept through Northern California, while another storm system in the southern part of the state unleashed mudslides in wildfire burn areas and trapped motorists on a major highway.

The deluge loosened hillsides where a major blaze burned last year in and around Malibu, clogging the Pacific Coast Highway with mud and debris.

A stretch of the scenic route northwest of Los Angeles remained closed in both directions until yesterday while crews tow away stuck vehicles and clear lanes. No injuries were reported.

The rapper Soulja Boy was among those whose cars were mired in the muck that was up to four feet deep in some areas.

The 28-year-old retweeted a photo of the mudslide and posted: “My car got stuck too almost went into the ocean,” along with a prayer emoji.

An automated rain gauge in the western Santa Monica Mountains showed nearly three-quarters of an inch of rainfall in one hour, said the National Weather Service.

“These are heavy rates,” the weather service tweeted.

Up to 3.8 centimetres of rain fell in coastal and valley areas, while mountain communities got heavy snow.

Flash-flood watches and warnings were eventually lifted for areas burned by the fires that scorched more than 155 square miles of brush and timber acres in November, destroyed about 1,600 structures and claimed three lives.

The sun emerged in Los Angeles last Sunday and the red carpet for the evenings Golden Globe awards were expected to remain dry. Scattered showers were possible.

To the north, wind and rain forced delays or cancellations of flights out of San Francisco International Airport for a second day.

A wind advisory was in place until 10pm last Sunday.