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Winds slow in Los Angeles area as deadly storm shifts eastward

Strong winds slowed throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties Saturday as a powerful storm system that battered parts of California and Arizona headed eastward, leaving several deaths in its wake.

Five people were reportedly killed in the storms that swept through the western United States, including three in California. In Oakland, officials said a man was apparently electrocuted after being hit by a falling power line and tree branches Thursday evening. The same night, a motorist in the same Bay Area city died after trying to avoid windblown debris and crashing into a tree.

A third person was killed in Yuba County when a tree fell onto her car, according to local media reports. Other Californians escaped heavy flooding with the help of rescuers: In San Bernardino County, five homeless people were plucked from a tree and an island on the swamped Santa Ana River, the Associated Press reported. Parts of Arizona also experienced flooding as the storm surged.

As of late Saturday morning, California meteorologists said the storm was weakening but cautioned that dangers remained, especially in mountain areas.

In Northern California, “right now the winds are dying down,” said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster in the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service. But “high elevations are still experiencing some gustiness, and folks have to watch for falling tree limbs in the roadways.”

Storm warnings were due to end at noon Saturday in Southern California. In high elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley foothills, snow ranging from eight inches to more than a foot fell, said National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Sukup. Most of the Los Angeles area got between a quarter inch and a half inch of rain; the mountains and Antelope Valley foothills were hit harder, with more than an inch of rain in some areas.

Sukup warned that remaining patches of snow and ice remained a danger, and that 50-mph gusts would continue through early afternoon in the mountains.

However, “the worst of it is over,” Sukup said. “The winds will continue to drop off as the low-pressure system continues to move east today … By tomorrow we’ll be pretty much back to normal.”


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