Published: Mon, February 20, 2017
Local | By Adrian Hale

California hit by 'weather bomb' - biggest storm in years

The 55-year-old man was electrocuted after a power line fell Friday afternoon in Van Nuys, Los Angeles police Officer Drake Madison said.

Two occupants narrowly escaped injury when their auto fell into another 20-foot sinkhole off Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Studio City on Friday night, the LA Times reported. At time of posting, at least four deaths have been linked to the storm, including two passenger killed in a four-car pile up on the San Diego freeway, a 55-year-old man who was electrocuted when a fallen tree caused powerless to fall on his vehicle, and a man who drowned after his auto was washed away in a flash flood.

Wet weather returned to California on Thursday with the first in a new series of rainstorms moving across the northern half of the state while the south awaited a storm that forecasters said could be the strongest in years if not decades.

The storm, which has appropriately been nicknamed "Lucifer" in addition to "Bombogenesis" is believed to be one of the strongest to have hit Cali in years.

The storm feeding on an atmospheric river of moisture stretching far out into the ocean was at its most fierce late Friday afternoon, dropping over 8 inches of rain in one area.

Another tree brought down power lines as it fell on a vehicle, leaving one person hospitalized in serious condition with possible electric shock.

Forecasters say rain will also spread into Central California and up to the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Victorville, firefighters said one motorist died when their auto was submerged.

In a sign of the power of the winds, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to more than 150 reports of downed electrical wires.

Higher elevations can expect high winds and heavy snowfall. The area received about 3 inches of rain as of Saturday morning. "But where this system stalls with the cold front is really what we're most concerned about because that's where we'll see those moderate to heavy rain rates come across", Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Saturday.

More than 131,000 customers lost power Friday (Feb. 17) night, officials said.

The drenching rains were too much for the roads to handle, giving way to a 20-foot sinkhole that swallowed two cars.

Strong winds also caused hundreds of thousands of homes to lose power across Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

As the heavy rains drenched the area, Duarte, a city northeast of Los Angeles, issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents of 200 homes.

Officials are keeping an eye on the Oroville Dam after authorities last week ordered mandatory evacuations over concerns that an emergency spillway could fail and threaten nearby communities.

In San Bernardino County, two lanes remained closed early Saturday after a section of the southbound Interstate-15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass collapsed. Authorities said the San Joaquin River is reaching flood stage, and they are warning residents in Manteca to be ready to evacuate in case it reaches unsafe levels.

· Drive safely. Most injuries during stormy weather are directly related to traffic accidents associated with the weather.

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