A storm walloped parts of California with up to 7 inchesof rain and spawned minor flooding, mudslides and road closures Dec. 20, but forecasters warn the bad weather’s real impact may be yet to come.
More than 3 additional inches of rain expected across the region by Dec. 22 will hit already saturated hillsides, increasing the possibility of slides and flash floods, said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service.
The relentless rains that pounded California through the weekend smashed rainfall records, caused numerous traffic accidents, downed trees and forced the cancellation of some horse races.
The weather service said rainfall accumulation could reach 20 inches in some isolated locations by Dec. 22, when the first phase of the storm is expected to pass. After a brief respite, it is forecast to return late Christmas Day.
A 20-mile stretch of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard was closed to commuters after a rock and mud slide on the night of Dec. 19. The California Highway Patrol said no one was hurt.
The system hit the state on December 17 after a large storm front moving out of the Gulf of Alaska met with subtropical, moist air coming across the Pacific Ocean.
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner warned residents that flood damage is not covered by the standard homeowners’ policy.
“First and foremost, all Californians should take precautions to stay safe during these storms,” Poizner said. “It is also essential that homeowners evaluate their individual needs for flood and other supplemental insurance policies. I encourage all homeowners to document their possessions before any type of disaster strikes. Suffering the loss of a home or belongings is an extremely stressful experience. Relying solely on your memory to inventory your assets is a mistake that can be easily avoided.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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