California Storms Set Off Mudslides; 3 Dead

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mudslides forced some people to flee their homes and may have trapped others Monday as Southern California was soaked by the latest in a series of storms that were blamed for three deaths, stalled commuter rail service and power outages.

As much as 3 inches of rain was expected along the Southern California coast with 5 inches in the foothills, said Andrew Rorke, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. The mountains could see up to 2 feet of snow.

Rescue workers searched for people believed to be trapped in about 10 feet of mud that crashed into a condominium complex in Hacienda Heights, a suburb east of Los Angeles, said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mark Savage.

''We have possibly up to three (trapped),'' he said. ''It's still unfolding.''

About 30 people were evacuated from 11 homes in Glendale, north of downtown Los Angeles, because of mudslides and flooding, officials said. Three homes on an unstable hill were evacuated in nearby Pasadena.

In the coastal community of La Conchita, where a landslide killed 10 people last month, six families elected to leave during the night because of the heavy rain and a steady flow of mud on the bluffs behind the town, said Capt. Bill Flanagan of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. Warnings had been issued earlier and the community about 70 miles north of Los Angeles was described as a ghost town Saturday after other residents moved out.

The latest batch of rain, snow and hail started battering the region Sunday, part of a series of storms that arrived Friday and was expected to continue into Tuesday.

Since Thursday, downtown Los Angeles had gotten more than 6.5 inches of rain. The city's total since July 1, the start of the region's ''water year,'' has reached 31.29 inches, making it already the seventh wettest on record, said weather service forecaster Curt Kaplan. The record, 38.18 inches, was set in 1883-1884.

Metrolink canceled some commuter train service Monday along the Ventura County line north of Moorpark because of the heavy rain. Northbound Amtrak commuter rail service between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara was canceled because of the storm but southbound trains were running. Amtrak had canceled Los Angeles-to-Santa Barbara commuter rail service Friday night because of mudslides in Moorpark.

Early Monday, the rain triggered a mudslide that struck a home in the city's Woodland Hills area in the San Fernando Valley, killing one man, coroner officials said.

In the city's Sun Valley area, a repair worker was killed late Sunday falling into a 30-foot-deep sinkhole created by the storm, said Fire Department spokesman Melissa Kelley. The body wasn't recovered until Monday morning because of downed power lines near the chasm, she said.

And in Orange County, a 16-year-old girl was killed by boulders that crashed into her family's apartment in a rural area east of Irvine, said Joseph Luckey, supervising deputy coroner. Her mother and stepfather were unhurt.

The stormy weather also had knocked out power to some 170,000 customers since Friday, primarily in the South Bay area that includes towns such as Torrance, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, officials said. About 2,800 homes and businesses still had no electricity by late Sunday, said Steve Conroy, a spokesman for Southern California Edison.

A flash flood watch was in effect for southern Santa Barbara County and all of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Tuesday evening. A landslide advisory effective through Monday was posted for most of Southern California, especially in recent burn areas.

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