'Intense' storm to hit Southern California

Dec. 21, 2010 at 10:08 PM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Southern California, already battered by rain and wind this week, is about to get hit with a "very dynamic and intense" storm Tuesday night, forecasters said.

As the region dealt with heavy coastal rains and The National Weather Service said the latest storm to hit the state was buffeting the Los Angeles and San Diego areas with heavy rain along the coast and snowfall in the mountains, the National Weather Service said a storm was expected to bring thunderstorms, hail and possibly even waterspouts and tornadoes before dawn Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The storm was expected to last for 6 to 8 hours and deliver as much as 1.5 inches of rain per hour in some areas, raising the specter of flooding in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County – not simply in the foothills and mountain areas accustomed to flooding during heavy rains – weather service specialist Stuart Seto told the newspaper.

"The ground will be permeated with a lot of rain, and it was a very, slow consistent rain for the past five days," he said.

"This thunderstorm activity is very dynamic and intense," Seto said.

The storm will likely be accompanied by winds of 15-25 mph along the coast and in the valleys, with gusts of 65 mph possible, forecasters said.

Los Angeles County authorities issued evacuation orders Tuesday covering more than 200 homes in the foothills communities of La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta. Residents were told to be out of their homes by 9 p.m. PST and to remove their vehicles from some streets, the Times reported.

The morning commute in Southern California was slowed by rains that were particularly heavy in the Orange County area. Overnight winds downed trees and power lines in the metro area; however, there were no major mudslides in the hills.

Flash flooding trapped vehicles in rural areas around San Bernardino and Orange County. The Orange County Register said rescue crews Tuesday located four missing hikers in a flooded canyon and were developing a plan to bring them to safety.

In the eastern mountains, the snowfall was moderating until Tuesday night when 2-4 inches more were possible in the Lake Tahoe area.

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