Big storm brings new worries to California

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A man places sandbags at the top of a street lined with K-rail and sandbags in Glendora, Calif., as the city and residents prepare for possible flooding Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for 1,000 homes in two foothill suburbs east of Los Angeles in advance of a powerful storm. The cities of Glendora and Azusa issued the orders at midday Thursday for homes that could be endangered by debris flows from nearly 2,000 acres (810 hectares) of steep mountain slopes burned by a wildfire last month. For days, both cities have been making extensive preparations including sandbagging. California received widespread rain Wednesday and early Thursday from the first of two back-to-back storms. The more powerful second storm is due overnight. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

A man places sandbags at the top of a street lined with K-rail and sandbags in Glendora, Calif., as the city and residents prepare for possible flooding Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for 1,000 homes in two foothill suburbs east of Los Angeles in advance of a powerful storm. The cities of Glendora and Azusa issued the orders at midday Thursday for homes that could be endangered by debris flows from nearly 2,000 acres (810 hectares) of steep mountain slopes burned by a wildfire last month. For days, both cities have been making extensive preparations including sandbagging. California received widespread rain Wednesday and early Thursday from the first of two back-to-back storms. The more powerful second storm is due overnight. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Clouds are shown over the iconic Hollywood sign Thursday Feb. 27, 2014 in Los Angeles. Southern California got an overnight soaking Thursday as residents prepared for a second, more powerful storm that could bring heavier rain and prompted fears of mudslides in communities along fire-scarred foothills. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at 2:00 AM EST shows a storm system moving into the southern Pacific Northwest and California with heavy rain. Isolated showers are possible as far west as Arizona and New Mexico. Areas in the highest elevations could have snow showers with this system.(AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

Fidel Meza shovels the dry soil looking for drip lines dry tomato field as storms arrive in the area Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 in Lemoore, Calif. The first significant California storm in months barreled down from the north Wednesday, promising much-needed rain to the drought-stricken state but also the threat of mudslides and flooding. A potentially stronger storm is expected to move in late Thursday. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Storm clouds are shown over downtown Los Angeles Thursday Feb. 27, 2014. Southern California got an overnight soaking Thursday as residents prepared for a second, more powerful storm that could bring heavier rain and prompted fears of mudslides in communities along fire-scarred foothills.(AP Photo/Nick Ut)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The first wave of a powerful Pacific storm spread rain and snow early Friday through much of California, where communities endangered by a wildfire just weeks ago now faced the threat of mud and debris flows.

Authorities in the foothill cities of Glendora and Azusa east of Los Angeles kept a wary eye on the barren slopes as rains moved through. Small debris flows covered one Glendora street but no property damage occurred, police said. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for about 1,000 homes in the area on Thursday.

Numerous traffic accidents occurred on slick or flooded roads across Southern California, and a 10-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway west of Malibu was closed as a precaution against possible rockslides from a fire-scarred section of the Santa Monica Mountains.

In Los Angeles, rising water forced police to close major roads crossing the Sepulveda Basin. The flood-control area for the Los Angeles River on the San Fernando Valley floor is maintained as a wildlife refuge and recreation center but is otherwise kept clear of development.

Rain was also falling in the central coast counties, in the San Francisco Bay region and in the Central Valley. Winter storm warnings were in effect in the Sierra Nevada for heavy snowfall.

Forecasts called for the storm to last through Saturday in California, bringing some relief amid a long-running drought, and to spread east into similarly parched neighboring states. Phoenix was expecting its first noticeable precipitation in two months.

Around San Francisco Bay, the storm led to an urban and small stream flood warning, as rain in excess of a half-inch an hour moved in, according to the National Weather Service. Wet roadways and crashes slowed the morning commute, and there were isolated power outages.

In San Jose, a driver had to abandon his vehicle after attempting to drive through a flooded street and becoming stranded, police said. The driver was not hurt. Firefighters also pulled a man from swollen Coyote Creek near a homeless encampment. He was treated at a hospital for hypothermia.

Some arriving flights at San Francisco International Airport were delayed by more than four hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

South of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay pumpkin farmer Chris Gounalakis worked in a soft drizzle to make sure his plowed fields weren’t being eroded by a creek.

“Our land can start funneling into the creek, it’s happened before. Then we end up losing our little precious land, and right now we do need every little bit,” he said.

The storm’s full force was expected to be felt later Friday morning, with possible thunderstorms and rains up to an inch per hour, the National Weather Service said.

On Thursday, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for about 1,000 homes in Glendora and Azusa, about 25 miles east of Los Angeles that sit beneath nearly 2,000 acres of steep mountain slopes stripped by fire in January. People were not forced out, but some residents quickly heeded the call.

“We have an hour to get evacuated,” said Dana Waldusky as she hurried to evacuate

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