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Storms soak California More rain on the way

| December 22, 2010 8:00 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A powerful storm system with drenching rain, heavy snow and high winds lashed California on Monday, but forecasters warned the worst was yet to come.

Even stronger storms were bearing down on the state and threatened to dump another 5 to 10 inches of rain during the next two days.

Virtually the entire state was affected by the bad weather.

Some locations in Southern California had received more than 12 inches of rain, said meteorologist Jamie Meier of the National Weather Service. It was the most rainfall from one storm event since 2005, he said.

"That will make for a pretty good wallop, especially considering how dry things have been for the last two years," Meier said.

Downtown Los Angeles got 5 1/4 inches of rain since Friday morning, more than a third of the average annual precipitation.

About 40 residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland were briefly evacuated Monday morning amid fears that a nearby creek would flood.

A Kern County Fire Department statement said 2,000 residents had been ordered to leave their homes, but McFarland Police Chief David Oberhoffer told the Bakersfield Californian that only a few dozen people showed up at an evacuation center.

Resident Cristian Abundis, who lives on a street where water ran a foot deep, returned from an evacuation center and quickly started filling sand bags.

"We just want to be prepared," he said, dropping the bags around his doors and driveway.

Gary Farrell, general manager of the McFarland Parks and Recreation District, said Santa Fe Railroad crews kept Poso Creek free of debris so it wouldn't overflow.

Flooding in Wrightwood, a mountain community high in the San Gabriels, was pelted with rain and snow when a series of thunderstorms parked above the peaks, flooding streets and homes.

In San Bernardino County, a car was swept down a wash near Rialto and briefly dragged underwater before a team of divers and rescuers managed to pull the driver out, said Sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire.

Elsewhere, a 20-mile stretch of scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard was closed to commuters after a rock and mudslide Sunday night. The California Highway Patrol said no one was hurt. PCH also was closed for a time in Orange County by a mudslide at Dana Point.

Areas of San Bernardino County that burned recently were under close watch.

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