3 dead after torrents of rain hit Southern California

The strongest storm to hit southern California in years sees people rescued from flooded streets and cars swallowed by sinkholes on live TV.

Southern California rain eases, but north facing renewed storm

This woman's car was caught in street flooding in Sun Valley as the storm moved across southern California on Friday. At least three people were killed by the storm. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A huge Pacific storm that parked itself over Southern California and unloaded — ravaging roads, opening sinkholes and leading to the deaths of at least three people — eased off Saturday. But it was only a temporary reprieve as new storms took aim farther north.

The National Weather Service predicted drying weather through Sunday followed by the return of wet weather in the region. But while flash-flood watches for Southern California were cancelled, Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area were facing a weekend return of heavy rain and winds that lashed them earlier in the week before the storm moves out.

A woman battles the wind in Los Angeles. The region seemed to avoid any major disasters. (Ringo Chiu/Reuters)

"Stronger southerly winds and widespread flooding will be likely as an atmospheric river [of moisture] takes aim somewhere along the central California Coast," a weather statement warned.

The approaching rain could cause more problems in the far north where damage to spillways of the Lake Oroville dam forced evacuation of 188,000 people last weekend. As of Saturday, the lake's water elevation had fallen more than 45 feet.

Meanwhile, authorities up and down the state were dealing with the fallout, including overflowing creeks, mudslide threats in foothill areas denuded by previous fires, road collapses and hundreds of toppled trees in neighbourhoods.

Elementary school fills with water

Northwest of Sacramento, nearly 200 people were forced to flee Saturday as overflowing creeks turned the town of Maxwell into a brown pond. Fire Chief Kenny Cohen said nearly 100 homes and the elementary school filled with about 50 mm of water before the water began receding.

No injuries were reported.

The storm parked itself over southern California on Friday. Here, a woman braves the rain at Seal Beach. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Southern California appeared to dodge any major disasters, but in the desert town of Victorville, several cars were washed down a flooded street, and one man was found dead in a submerged vehicle after others were rescued, San Bernardino County Fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said.

And in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, a man was electrocuted when a tree falling in heavy rain downed power lines that hit his car.

Body found in creek

On Saturday, searchers found the body of a man in his 20s who was swept down a rain-swollen gully in Thousand Oaks a day earlier. KCBS-TV reported that the body was found in Arroyo Conejo Creek.

Strong winds caused this tree to crash into a carport and vehicles in the Santa Barbara suburb of Goleta. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

In the Studio City area of Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed two cars, the second on live TV as viewers watched it teeter on the edge before plunging in. One driver was taken to the hospital in fair condition.

Car hangs on pavement edge before falling into California sinkhole

5 years ago
Duration 1:13
A sinkhole in Los Angeles swallowed 2 cars following storm in Southern California 1:13

Inland at the Cajon Pass, the shoulder of Interstate 15 crumbled and sent a parked fire truck spilling over the side, but no one was hurt. The California Department of Transportation estimated emergency repairs to the freeway would cost $3 million ($3.93 Cdn).

A woman leaves her apartment building, left damaged by a fallen tree in Los Angeles. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)