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Severe weather slams U.S. coasts with rain, floods, large waves

By Clyde Hughes and Daniel Uria
Severe weather slams U.S. coasts with rain, floods, large waves
Howard County, Md., Fire and EMS personnel help rescue a llama from high waters Saturday. Photo courtesy Howard County Fire EMS

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Extreme weather on the East and West Coasts sparked high-water rescues and warnings of dangerous high waves off California on Monday.

The Pacific cold front was expected to slam central California and the northern Rocky Mountains with rain and snow over the next couple days. Snow totals were expected to top a foot in the Washington Cascades and the Idaho mountains Monday into Tuesday, forecasters said.

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On the opposite coast, Maine could receive as much as 4 inches to 8 inches of snow before New England starts to dry out Tuesday.

The National Weather Service blamed an occluded low-pressure system for heavy rain on the East Coast that left record rain totals in the Washington, D.C., area over the weekend. Forecasters said, though, there's still enough of the storm hanging around to bring moderate to heavy snow to northern New England.

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In Howard County, Md., emergency crews spent hours helping drivers out of flooded areas, and even rescued a llama with its owner after a pasture experienced rising waters at the Patuxent River in Mink Hollow.

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Rainfall at Washington Dulles International Airport more than doubled previous records. Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport also saw record-breaking rain.

A major rainstorm was forecast to bring rain and thunderstorms near the upper coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, AccuWeather reported.

The storm is expected to cause slick road conditions moving to the north along the Interstate 10 corridor to the Southeast and Midwest throughout the week, causing possible delays and hazards for those traveling during the winter holidays.

The American Automobile Association said drivers in Atlanta, New York City, Boston and Houston should expect to see travel times more than three times a normal trip Wednesday -- independent of any weather hazards -- and Thursday could be the nation's worst day for travel times of any kind.

The National Weather Service in San Francisco issued high wave warning along the Northern California coast, advising residents in a Twitter post to stay "well back" from the ocean or risk "certain death."

The agency estimated some waves were as large as 50 feet, with some of the largest coming early Monday. An area of low pressure moving in from the Gulf of Alaska into the western United States and Canada appears to be the source of the weather conditions.

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"Significant increased risk of rip currents and sneaker waves," the service wrote in its warning. "Waves can run up on beaches and sweep over previously dry areas."

The Weather Channel reported one surfer was killed at San Francisco's Ocean Beach last week in waves of 10 feet.

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