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Rain Sets Record, Is Blamed in Fatality

The storm that began its slow, soggy sojourn across Southern California this week was blamed for a traffic death in Panorama City on Wednesday, pushed Orange County’s rainfall to a record and more than doubled the normal amount of rain at the Los Angeles Civic Center.

But forecasters say the rain should move out by this evening, and Southern California is expected to have mostly clear skies on Friday and through the weekend. Temperatures should climb to the mid-70s early next week, said Curtis Brack, a meteorologist for WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times.

In the Panorama City accident, Socorro Alaba, 51, was killed by a car as she walked in the rain in a marked crosswalk on Parthenia Avenue at Van Nuys Boulevard with her husband, Eustaquios, 74, who was seriously injured, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Fred Meck.

Police identified the driver who hit the couple as Jose Pineda, 22, of Van Nuys. He was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and was being held at the LAPD’s Van Nuys Division in lieu of $25,000 bail, investigators said. “He was going too fast for the conditions,” said Officer Ted Reyland.

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In Orange County on Wednesday, the latest in a series of heavy storms dropped an inch of rain before 3 p.m., making this the wettest month since county officials began documenting monthly rainfall totals in 1952.

Officials said the day’s full rain total pushed precipitation for January to 11.91 inches in Santa Ana, the official measuring spot for Orange County, exceeding the previous high for the month of 11.47 inches, set in 1993.

The weather also was blamed for a pre-dawn crash near Camp Pendleton, where a tanker truck hauling 6,000 gallons of refrigerated nitrogen overturned, injuring the driver and snarling southbound traffic on Interstate 5 well into the morning commute.

The rain also drenched Ventura County again, closing some highways and dropping up to three inches of water in some areas. Officials closed a number of highways, shutting off traffic on portions of California 150, the Pacific Coast Highway and California 154.

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At the Los Angeles Civic Center, 1.24 inches of rain fell in the 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Brack said. That rainfall pushed the seasonal total to 14.49 inches, compared to a normal 7.20 inches to date.

* RELATED PICTURES, STORIES: B1, B2, D1

* RELATED PICTURES, STORIES (San Fernando Valley): B1, B11, D1

* RELATED STORIES (Ventura County): B13, D1

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