LOS ANGELES - A powerful Pacific storm blew into southern California on Friday, unleashing wind-driven heavy rains that forecasters said could become the strongest in years if not decades.
In the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, a falling tree downed power lines and hit a auto.
Homes were evacuated in some areas due to the potential for mudslides and debris flows, while more than 300 flights to and from Los Angeles International Airport were delayed or cancelled.
Live television captured a sinkhole swallowing two cars.
Power went out and cars were submerged in Southern California after the region experienced one of its most drenching storms in recent years. In general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm, and this storm is predicted to bottom out near 985 millibars, which is typical of a Category 1 hurricane.
Atmospheric river storms are drought busters in California, dumping huge amounts of rain in narrow corridors within short periods of time.
One person drowned in his vehicle due to sudden flash flooding. Rainfall estimates are 2-6 inches for coasts and valleys and 5-10 inches for south facing foothills and coastal mountain slopes focused from the Santa Barbara South Coast southward.
High wind warnings have been extended from Southern California on up to the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast, including the Monterey Bay area.
In Victorville in San Bernardino County, one person was found dead Friday (Feb. 17) in a flooded vehicle, firefighters said. Street flooding in Los Angeles and downed tree branches. Officials are watching Lake Oroville's levels warily in case they reach record highs once again from heavy rain and snowmelt.
Rain and wind wiped out play in golf's Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, where a eucalyptus tree cracked.
A less severe wind advisory, signaling winds of at least 35 mph, will be in effect from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m. Friday in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, L.A. County beach cities, metropolitan L.A., the downtown area and the Hollywood Hills, with east-to-southeast winds of 25 to 35 mph expected in those areas, along with 50 mph gusts.
"The storm looks to be the strongest to hit south-west California this season", the National Weather Service in Los Angeles said. That means there is a threat to life and property and people should take it very serious.
Rainfall was expected to increase substantially in Orange and L.A. counties, which could see anywhere from three to five inches of rain and perhaps flash flooding by the evening, ABC News reported.
As the heavy rains drenched the area, Duarte, a city northeast of Los Angeles, issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents of 200 homes. The terminal is above the flood, Johns said.
The National Weather Service says only scattered light showers are occurring in the region north of Sacramento, where the damaged Oroville Dam continues to release water in advance of new storms. "If that wasn't enough, we also can't rule out thunderstorms, possibly spawning water spouts Friday night into early Saturday", said Weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman.