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California storms: 12-foot waves, tornado warning, more rain ahead

A flash flood watch remained in effect for large parts of Southern California amid a powerful rainstorm that will keep the region wet through Sunday.

Officials warned of possible coastal flooding and waves topping 12 feet at some beaches Saturday. In the mountains, snow levels dropped to 5,500 feet. On Friday night, the storms brought lightning and strong winds.

Early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of L.A. County. The weather service posted on Twitter a map showing what it said was “a weak tornado” near Walnut and Azusa. No injuries were reported.

PHOTOS: Rain storm hits the Southland

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Evacuations remain in effect in foothill communities in the eastern San Gabriel Valley, which saw mudflows Friday and where some hillsides are unstable.

A strong low-pressure storm system poised off the coast will move inland over the course of the weekend, bringing up to 3 inches of rain to the coast and up to 10 inches in some mountain areas. Winds will be powerful; some inland portions of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties could see gusts of 65 mph or more.

Evacuations remain in effect in the foothill communities of Glendora and Azusa, east of Pasadena and in the shadows of the Angeles National Forest. There, an illegal campfire erupted into the 2,000-acre Colby fire in January, destroying five homes and leaving thousands of others exposed to danger beneath denuded slopes.

Authorities, fearing that homes could be inundated with mud and debris, issued evacuation orders for about 1,000 homes in Glendora and an additional 200 homes in nearby Monrovia. But in some areas residents estimated that as many as three-quarters of homeowners had ignored the “mandatory” evacuation and elected to stay put, a decision that did not please fire and rescue officials.

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“Understand this: If there is mud coming down, fire personnel cannot get to you,” warned Steve Martin of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “There’s a reason for these evacuations.”

An unstable hillside in Azusa prompted police to order evacuations Friday evening of all 26 homes on Ridge View Drive in the Colby fire burn area.

“The hillside is not stable,” said Azusa police Sgt. Sam Fleming, adding there was already 2 to 3 feet of mud in the backyards of two homes on the street.

“Mud is extremely heavy, and people can get stuck real quick,” Fleming said. “Should that hillside go, it’s going to happen quickly. We’re wanting to get as many people [as possible] out quickly ... because there won’t be a lot of time.”

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L.A. saw its driest year on record in 2013. And this storm was been the most significant rain in two years.

Here were some 24-hour rainfall totals from Friday evening:

Bel Air 2.6 inches
Beverly Hills 2.39 inches
Costa Mesa 1.1 inches
Downtown Los Angeles 2.28 inches
Eagle Rock Reservoir 2.6 inches
Fullerton 1.13 inches
Hollywood Reservoir 2.01 inches
Huntington Beach 0.89 inches
Laguna Beach 0.9 inches
Los Angeles International Airport 1.62 inches
Long Beach 1.03 inches
Pasadena 2.64 inches
Redondo Beach 1.28 inches
Santa Monica 1.68 inches
Santa Ana 1.14 inches
Sierra Madre 2.39 inches
Torrance 1.11 inches
Van Nuys 2.6 inches


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