Powerful Storm Hits Southern California

February 18, 2017

A powerful storm blew into California on Friday, bringing heavy rains and strong winds and prompting the evacuation of nearly 200 homes east of Los Angeles.

The storm was the latest event in months of rainy weather that has dramatically eased California's years-long drought, but it was not expected to bring significant rain to the state's north, where damage to the spillway of one the country's largest dams prompted the evacuation of 188,000 people.

Officials monitoring the Oroville Dam said they were confident the reservoir could handle any runoff from this storm because they have been lowering the dam's water level since its spillways were damaged last week.

The storm was causing numerous flights to be delayed or canceled at Southern California airports.

Officials said they rescued several people from the Sepulveda Basin, a flood-control area along the Los Angeles River. They said flooding had closed a section of the Pacific Coast Highway along beach areas.

Total rainfall predictions were as high as nearly 10 inches (25 centimeters) in some areas, with rain failing at a rate of more than an inch (up to 3 centimeters) per hour. The National Weather Service said the storm could end up being the strongest one to hit Southern California in two decades.

After years of drought, California has seen several powerful storms this year that have filled reservoirs and capped the Sierra Nevada mountain range with snow. Blizzards in January left snowpack about 175 percent above average in the Sierra Nevada, providing three-fourths of the state's yearly precipitation in just a few weeks.