Powerful California storm leaves at least two dead

A helicopter crew was still searching for a missing person, it said on Twitter.

Los Angeles fire officials said one person was electrocuted after a tree downed a power line and several people stranded near the Los Angeles River had to be rescued with inflatable boats. Closures were ordered at Royal Oaks and Greenbank; Bettyhill and Conata; Royal Oaks and Mel Canyon; eastbound Fish Canyon at Mel Canyon; westbound Fish Canyon at Mel Canyon, Mountaincrest and Deerlane; Brookridge and Tannencrest; and Sunnydale Drive and Westvale Road.

Officials said they rescued several people from the Sepulveda Basin, a flood-control area along the Los Angeles River. "Be careful when driving and stay off the roads, if possible", the agency wrote.

Temperatures in Los Angeles and Orange counties were expected to range from 57 to 61 degrees, with valley and inland temperatures likely getting similar temperatures.

It was expected to last until Saturday afternoon.

Strong winds also caused hundreds of thousands of homes to lose power across Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

From canceled flights, horse races and closed highways, to the cancellation of Pasadena's Black History Month parade on Saturday, Californians are preparing for the worst as this storm moves toward the northern regions of the state.

There is a slight chance of thunderstorms Saturday morning, and up to a 50 percent chance of rain in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

To truly understand the mechanisms behind this storm, though, you have to turn your attention to the tropics, where the deep moisture originates from.

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The rain and melting snowpack also are threatening to undermine a spillway at one of the largest dams in the country.

On Tuesday, officials downgraded the evacuation order to a warning, allowing 188,000 evacuees from Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties to return home.

A storm that forecasters say could potentially be the biggest so far this season in Southern California could unleash monster winds, flash flooding, mud slides and cascades of debris down slopes stripped bare by wildfires.

The National Weather Service says that the storm, which is expected to last through Monday, will be the wettest in this series, bringing heavy rain at lower elevations and snow over mountain passes.

But Swain, on his blog, cautioned this storm or one in the future could still test Oroville's dam system.

In the low-lying areas in and around Downtown Los Angeles, expect 2 to 4 inches of rain.

The freeway was closed at Lankershim Boulevard in Sunland on Friday, where as much as 3 feet of water pooled on the roadway. The normal lake level is 850 feet, he said.

"The dam is holding up, it's structurally sound", said Jay Smith, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The California Department of Water Resources, however, said Saturday night that the level of Lake Oroville continues to fall despite the stormy weather, and the amount of water flowing down the spillway continues to be cut.

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