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Powerful storm enters California, bringing risk of flooding

Powerful storm enters California, bringing risk of flooding
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A powerful Pacific storm blew into Southern and Central California with wind-driven heavy rains, triggering rescues, calls for evacuations, toppling...

A powerful Pacific storm blew into Southern and Central California with wind-driven heavy rains, triggering rescues, calls for evacuations, toppling trees and power lines and disrupting travel and outdoor events.

With the storm feeding on an atmospheric river of moisture stretching far out into the Pacific, precautionary evacuations of homes in some neighbourhoods were requested due to the potential for mudslides and debris flows.

Numerous flights were delayed or cancelled at the state's airports yesterday.

"It's crazy," said Robin Johnson, an academic adviser at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "It's just pouring down rain. The wind is just going nuts." "At one point the wind was so strong I'm surprised it didn't blow my windows out," retiree Phoenix Hocking said in a Facebook message from Carpinteria. "I now have a pond in my patio. And my dog is starting to grow flippers so he can go out and do his business."

Using ropes and inflatable boats, firefighters rescued seven people and two dogs from the Sepulveda basin, a recreation and flood-control area along the Los Angeles River.

One person was taken to a hospital with a non-life-threatening injury.

Mudslides and flooding partially closed a section of freeway and the Pacific Coast Highway in beach areas.

The storm took aim at Southern California but also spread precipitation north into the San Joaquin Valley and up to San Francisco. It was not expected to bring significant rain in the far north where damage to spillways of the Lake Oroville dam forced evacuation of 188,000 people last weekend.

The National Weather Service said it could end up being the strongest storm to hit Southern California since January 1995.

Rain and wind wiped out play in golf's Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, where a eucalyptus tree cracked. Elsewhere in the city a tree brought down power lines as it fell on a car, and a person was hospitalised for possible electric shock, the Fire Department said.

By mid-afternoon, hundreds of trees and dozens of power lines had toppled in the Los Angeles area.

A 75-foot tree fell onto an apartment building near the University of California, Los Angeles, narrowly missing someone who was in bed, fire officials said. Four of the six apartments have been declared unsafe to enter, leaving 16 college students evacuated or unable to return home.

Another tree smashed a carport and vehicles in the Santa Barbara suburb of Goleta.

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