Dry California awaits powerful Pacific storm

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Drought Relief for California?

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hopes for much-needed moisture but fears of mudflows marked California as a Pacific storm headed toward the drought-dry state.

Rain was expected to begin falling Tuesday, although the timing of the heaviest downpours was variable, according to the National Weather Service.

Storm watches were posted for a large swath of the Sierra Nevada, where a huge amount of the state's water supply is normally stored as snowpack. Significant accumulations were predicted but not enough to be a drought buster.

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California Storms (updated 12/12/14)
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Dry California awaits powerful Pacific storm
Caltrans crews work to clean up a torrent of mud and rocks covering part of State Route 91 in Orange County early Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Yorba Linda, Calif. Cars and trucks were stuck for several hours, but no injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Traffic backs up after a torrent of mud and rocks covered part of State Route 91 in Orange County early Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, near Yorba Linda, Calif. Cars and trucks were stuck for several hours, but no injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Caltrans crews work to clean up a torrent of mud and rocks covering part of State Route 91 in Orange County early Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Yorba Linda, Calif. Cars and trucks were stuck for several hours, but no injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Caltrans crews work to clean up a torrent of mud and rocks covering part of State Route 91 in Orange County early Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Yorba Linda, Calif. Cars and trucks were stuck for several hours, but no injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Caltrans crews work to clean up a torrent of mud and rocks covering part of State Route 91 in Orange County early Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Yorba Linda, Calif. Cars and trucks were stuck for several hours, but no injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
A surfer rides a wave at Blacks Beach, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in San Diego. A new storm dumped more rain on already waterlogged parts California Tuesday, bringing large surf with it to Southern California. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A surfer rides a wave at Blacks Beach, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in San Diego. A new storm dumped more rain on already waterlogged parts California Tuesday, bringing large surf with it to Southern California. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Protestors huddle under umbrellas and use a banner for rain shelter Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. A new storm dumped more rain on already waterlogged parts of Northern California, causing minor road flooding, scattered power outages and airport delays. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Trending: Carmel River diverted to allow dam removal, prevent catastrophic mudslide http://t.co/4dKkwPf8nA http://t.co/FPNi1EPEaF
Steve Derst uses a kayak to inspect the damage to the trailer park where he lives Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Guerneville, Calif. Derst pulled his home out of the park earlier in the week. While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm's affects lingered in Northern California. In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Madison Gardner, 4, looks out at a flooded vineyard on Wohler Road Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Forestville, Calif. While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm's affects lingered in Northern California. In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
An RV sits underwater from the flooded Russian River Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Guerneville, Calif. While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm's affects lingered in Northern California. In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Water from the Russian River floods an amusement park Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Guerneville, Calif. While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm's affects lingered in Northern California. In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Vineyard manager Jorge Olivera takes pictures of Pinot Noir vines in flooded Nonny's Vineyard along River Road Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Forestville, Calif. While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm's affects lingered in Northern California. In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Water from the Russian River floods the Mirabel RV and trailer park Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, in Forestville, Calif. While the sun rose Friday in a dry San Francisco sky, the storm's affects lingered in Northern California. In Sonoma County, the Russian River was approaching flood stage and was expected to crest several feet above it by early afternoon. Officials advised residents of about 300 homes to evacuate low-lying areas. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Mudslides & floods hit California,US http://t.co/uk0sA2AAc2 #SoCal #Cali #hellastorm #SoCalStorm #californiastorm http://t.co/8YhFGobg6Z
#NorCal copes, tweets, posts amid #californiastorm. #NorCalStorm By @VeronicaRochaLA http://t.co/8b6YlfTRbZ http://t.co/Juar2oHVSc
120' Eucalyptus fell on Albertson's in Buellton during last nights storm. Stay with us for latest! #californiastorm http://t.co/XOmrFfKiRg
Intense rains flood the streets of #Windsor #California ... #californiastorm http://t.co/X6isHi2nUL
Water covers one of several vehicles stranded in an Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Water covers one of several vehicles stranded in an Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Torrential rain triggering mudslides in Camarillo Springs. Residents rescued after mud trapped them in their homes. http://t.co/0S8K09ZHMF
This photo provided by the Placer County Sheriff shows waves pounding a dock in Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned down the West Coast Thursday, bringing strong gales and much-needed rain and snow that caused widespread blackouts in Northern California and whiteouts in the Sierra Nevada. (AP Photo/Placer County Sheriff)
Several mudslides in Calif. Evacuations #happeningnow. Watch #News5Today for the video. http://t.co/xOAqCIoOKH
A Caltrans crew tries to clear a flooded stretch of Highway 101 in South San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
People use kayaks and a canoe to make their way around a flooded parking lot at a shopping center Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Zaruk Heely, 9, boogie boards on a flooded fairway at the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Strong gales and sheets of rain that knocked out electricity, flooded freeways and toppled trees in Northern California churned Thursday to a slide-prone Southern California bracing for its own beating. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
A man uses a kayak to make his way around a flooded parking lot at a shopping center Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Cars make their way through a flooded street in Pacifica Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Strong gales and sheets of rain that knocked out electricity, flooded freeways and toppled trees in Northern California churned Thursday to the slide-prone southern part of the state bracing for its own beating. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
A motorist pushes his car through a flooded stretch of Highway 101 in South San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
In this photo provided by the Placer County Sheriff a lone surfer catches a wave caused by high winds in Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Winds gusting to 140 mph through Sierra Nevada passed ahead of a powerful Pacific storm, damaging homes and a church in South Lake Tahoe, closing schools, and grounding commercial airline flights in Reno. (AP Photo/Placer County Sheriff)
A closed sign due to the weather is shown in the window of the Kendall-Jackson wine tasting room Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. Strong gales and sheets of rain that knocked out electricity, flooded freeways and toppled trees in Northern California churned Thursday to the slide-prone southern part of the state bracing for its own beating. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A girl wades through a flooded parking lot at a shopping center, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Laurie Gaggero boogie boards through floodwaters at the Sharp Park Golf Course near damaged trees in Pacifica Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Gaggero, a Pacifica resident, said playing on the flooded fairways during storms is an activity popular with local residents. Strong gales and sheets of rain that knocked out electricity, flooded freeways and toppled trees in Northern California churned Thursday to a slide-prone Southern California bracing for its own beating. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
Matthew Hazard cleans snow from his vehicle after several inches fell in Soda Springs, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Snow from a severe storm that swept through Northern California fell in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada forcing drivers without four-wheel drive vehicles to put on chains before crossing over Donner Summit. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Steve Vatenais chains up at a chain control point on eastbound Interstate 80 near Kingvale, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Several inches of snow from a severe storm that swept through Northern California fell in the Sierra Nevada forcing drivers without four-wheel drive vehicles to put on chains before crossing over Donner Summit. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
A sign warns drivers of the road conditions on Donner Pass Road near Soda Springs, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Several inches of snow from a severe storm that swept through Northern California fell in the Sierra Nevada forcing drivers without four-wheel drive vehicles to put on chains before crossing over Donner Summit. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Vehicles make their way along eastbound Interstate 80 near Soda Springs, Calif. Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned down the West Coast Thursday, bringing strong gales and much-needed rain and snow that caused widespread blackouts in Northern California and whiteouts in the Sierra Nevada. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
California is bracing for what some meteorologists are calling the fiercest storm in over 5 years.
A car and shopping cart are submerged in water at a flooded shopping center Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Aidan Perez, left, 12, and Christopher Dow, right, 11, use a shopping cart to get around the flooded parking lot of a shopping center Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Mark Kunze of San Bruno pushes his stalled vehicle out of the flooded intersection of Airport Blvd. and Grand Ave. in South San Francisco, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Several vehicles stalled in and around the intersection after driving through the deep water. A powerful storm churned through the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while bringing a soaking of much needed rain. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
Robert Wagner carries a bag of food for breakfast and a pack of beer while walking down a flooded street to his home Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Cars make their way past flooding as they head south on the 280 freeway through Daly City, Calif. on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, as a powerful storm churned through the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while bringing a soaking of much needed rain. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
A group of girls laugh while running down a flooded street Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A pickup makes its way down a flooded street Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Traffic moves slowly as flood water runs over Highway 101 near the Marin and Sonoma county border Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Petaluma, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A van navigates a flooded roadway in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned through Northern California Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Mark Kunze of San Bruno stalls his car in the flooded intersection of Airport Blvd. and Grand Ave. in South San Francisco, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Several vehicles stalled in and around the intersection after driving through the deep water. A powerful storm churned through the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while bringing a soaking of much needed rain. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
A man rides his bicycle through the flooded intersection of Airport Blvd. and Grand Ave. in South San Francisco, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. A powerful storm churned through the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while bringing a soaking of much needed rain. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
Stalled cars wait for help at the intersection of Airport Blvd. and Grand Ave. in South San Francisco on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. The vehicles stalled after driving through water that had flooded the intersection. A powerful storm churned through the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while bringing a soaking of much needed rain. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)
A car creates a wave of water while passing through a flooded area Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Mill Valley, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting outages are widespread across the Bay Area due to weather, but officials weren't immediately available to give a specific number of outages.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A bus passes through a flooded roadway Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Mill Valley, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting outages are widespread across the Bay Area due to weather, but officials weren't immediately available to give a specific number of outages.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A commuter makes his way in the wind and rain to catch a ferry, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, to San Francisco from Sausalito, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Commuter ML Mann struggles in the wind and rain to make her way to catch a ferry, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, to San Francisco from Sausalito, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
AP10ThingsToSee - A man carries an umbrella as he crosses Montgomery Street in San Francisco, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. The San Francisco Bay Area reached or exceeded normal annual rainfall totals for the first time in years. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Traffic moves slowly across the Golden Gate Bridge in the high winds and rain Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in this view from Sausalito, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting outages are widespread across the Bay Area due to weather, but officials weren't immediately available to give a specific number of outages.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/11/14)
Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/11/14)
@sal_castaneda street flooded before 8:00 a.m. http://t.co/JgLhS8mMfd
#hellastorm update: uber about to surpass Halloween2014 pricing??? http://t.co/eDmiEyissX
Jerry Croissant, 77, places sandbags to protect his home from mudslides outside his home in Gelndra, Calif., below mountains burned over in widlfires, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. A powerful storm expected to pack hurricane-force winds and heavy rain triggered emergency preparations across Northern California on Wednesday, with residents gathering sand bags, crews clearing storm drains and San Francisco school officials canceling classes for the first time since 9/11. As much as 8 inches of rain could fall on coastal mountains over a 24-hour period starting late Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada could get more than 2 feet of snow. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Janessa Gilbert gets help filling a sandbag from her son, Hudson , 4, at an area fire station for use at their home in the Sacramento suburb of North Highlands, Calif. Wednesday Dec. 10, 2014. Sandbags and sand were provided in flood-prone areas of Sacramento County for residents to use to protect their homes in anticipation of a powerful storm that is expected to hit Northern California Thursday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Concrete 'K' rails protect homes from possible flooding in Glendora, Calif., below mountains burned over in widlfires, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. A powerful storm expected to pack hurricane-force winds and heavy rain triggered emergency preparations across Northern California on Wednesday, with residents gathering sand bags, crews clearing storm drains and San Francisco school officials canceling classes for the first time since 9/11. As much as 8 inches of rain could fall on coastal mountains over a 24-hour period starting late Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada could get more than 2 feet of snow. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
SAN ANSELMO, CA - DECEMBER 10: Staysea Colteaux (L) and Chris Furbee (R) set up sandbags and seal a vent in front of Dogville on December 10, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is bracing for a severe storm that is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could topple trees and cause widespread flooding. Urban areas could see up to 6 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: People pick up free sandbags at the San Francisco Department of Public Works corporation yard on December 10, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is bracing for a severe storm that is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could topple trees and cause widespread flooding. Urban areas could see up to 6 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: A man lifts sandbags that are being given away for free at the San Francisco Department of Public Works corporation yard on December 10, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is bracing for a severe storm that is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could topple trees and cause widespread flooding. Urban areas could see up to 6 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: People pick up free sandbags at the San Francisco Department of Public Works corporation yard on December 10, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is bracing for a severe storm that is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could topple trees and cause widespread flooding. Urban areas could see up to 6 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: A man picks up a free sandbag at the San Francisco Department of Public Works corporation yard on December 10, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is bracing for a severe storm that is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could topple trees and cause widespread flooding. Urban areas could see up to 6 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Satellite view of storms on both U.S. coasts taken on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. (NOAA / NASA)
Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/10/14)
MILL VALLEY, CA - DECEMBER 03: A Mill Valley police officer directs cars through a flooded section of roadway on December 3, 2014 in Mill Valley, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is being hit with its first major storm of the year that is bringing heavy rain, lightning and hail to the region. The heavy overnight rain has caused flooding which has blocked several roadways and caused severe traffic backups. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/10/14)
A vehicle drives through a flooded street in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Heavy rain from a powerful Pacific storm swept through California providing some relief from a three-year drought. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/10/14)

Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/10/14)

A homeless man walks under the rain downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. A second day of much-needed rain fell across drought-stricken California on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Marilyn Van Schenk stands in knee-deep water as she clears a clogged storm drain that had caused her street to flood in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Heavy rain from a powerful Pacific storm swept through California providing some relief from a three-year drought. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
MILL VALLEY, CA - DECEMBER 03: A motorist drives through a flooded intersection on December 3, 2014 in Mill Valley, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is being hit with its first major storm of the year that is bringing heavy rain, lightning and hail to the region. The heavy overnight rain has caused flooding which has blocked several roadways and caused severe traffic backups. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MILL VALLEY, CA - DECEMBER 03: A car sits partially submerged in water on a flooded section of roadway on December 3, 2014 in Mill Valley, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is being hit with its first major storm of the year that is bringing heavy rain, lightning and hail to the region. The heavy overnight rain has caused flooding which has blocked several roadways and caused severe traffic backups. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MILL VALLEY, CA - DECEMBER 03: A cyclist rides through a flooded section of roadway on December 3, 2014 in Mill Valley, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is being hit with its first major storm of the year that is bringing heavy rain, lightning and hail to the region. The heavy overnight rain has caused flooding which has blocked several roadways and caused severe traffic backups. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: A San Francisco Department of Public works employee directs a line of cars waiting to enter the San Francisco DPW corporation yard to pick up free sandbags on December 10, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Bay Area is bracing for a severe storm that is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain that could topple trees and cause widespread flooding. Urban areas could see up to 6 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In this photo provided by the National Park Service, Upper Yosemite Falls flows at full force after two days of significant rainfall Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Yosemite National Park, Calif. A second day of much-needed rain fell across drought-stricken California on Wednesday, but the storm had so far produced few of the problems such as flooding and mudslides that had threatened areas left barren by wildfires. (AP Photo/National Park Service)
An umbrella vendor makes his way along a soggy city street in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. A second day of much-needed rain fell across drought-stricken California on Wednesday, but the storm so far had produced few of the problems such as flooding and mudslides that threatened areas left barren by wildfires. Residents and authorities, however, kept a cautious watch on saturated slopes as scattered showers fell in Southern California, where the heaviest torrents fell a day earlier. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
WOW!! This is the scene NOW: #Valley & #Dolores - flash flooding/blocked sewers, threaten homes! #SF #NoeValley http://t.co/cKqJXmAeIG
Flooded car under 3 feet of water in downtown San Jose. The Alameda at Stockton Ave. @CBSSF http://t.co/mkHAqILpO9
Raindrops are seen on a vehicle's window in Arcadia, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent foothill community burn areas have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Denis Carruth collects sand bags to protect his home from possible flooding in Glendora, Calif. on Monday, Dec.1, 2014. California is bracing for the arrival of a new, more powerful Pacific storm following a weekend of scattered rain, showers and snow. The National Weather Service says a low-pressure system off the coast will draw a plume of subtropical moisture northward into the state beginning on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Richard Pope places sand bags along his driveway to protect his home from an expected storm in Glendora, Calif. on Monday, Dec.1, 2014. California is bracing for the arrival of a new, more powerful Pacific storm following a weekend of scattered rain, showers and snow. The National Weather Service says a low-pressure system off the coast will draw a plume of subtropical moisture northward into the state beginning on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
CORRECTS LOCATION TO DRIVEWAY INSTEAD OF STREET - This photo provided by the Glendora Police Department shows a driveway covered in mud in a neighborhood of the suburb of Glendora, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Rare Southern California rains triggered mudslides in an area of the Los Angeles-area foothills scorched bare by a wildfire earlier this year. Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Robert Diaz says a 4-foot-high flow of debris hit a home in the suburb before dawn. (AP Photo/Glendora Police Department)
This photo provided by the Glendora Police Department shows work crews clear a mud flow at a home in the suburb of Glendora, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Rare Southern California rains triggered mudslides in an area of the Los Angeles-area foothills scorched bare by a wildfire earlier this year. Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Robert Diaz says a 4-foot-high flow of debris hit a home in the suburb before dawn. (AP Photo/Glendora Police Department)
A woman walks under an umbrella on the beach at La Jolla Shores as the area braces for an approaching storm Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in San Diego. Heavy rain from a powerful Pacific storm swept through California on Tuesday, and residents in some wildfire-scarred communities scrambled to evacuate as authorities warned of mudflows from unstable hillsides. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A woman wears an umbrella as she walks past the Staples Center Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in downtown Los Angeles. Southern California is bracing Tuesday for predicted heavy rains, bringing with it hopes of some relief from the year-long drought, and fears of mudslides in wildfire-ravaged areas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A lone surfer makes his way into the water as storm clouds come ashore Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in San Diego. Southern California is bracing Tuesday for predicted heavy rains, bringing with it hopes of some relief from the years-long drought, and fears of mudslides in wildfire-ravaged areas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A woman with an umbrella walks along the shoreline in front of lifeguard towers stored for the winter on the beach at La Jolla Shores as the area braces for an approaching storm in San Diego on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Heavy rain from a powerful Pacific storm swept through California on Tuesday, and residents in some wildfire-scarred communities scrambled to evacuate as authorities warned of mudflows from unstable hillsides. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Trees adorned with Christmas lights are reflected on the rain-soaked street Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in downtown Los Angeles. Southern California is bracing Tuesday for predicted heavy rains, bringing with it hopes of some relief from the year-long drought, and fears of mudslides in wildfire-ravaged areas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Palm trees along La Jolla Shores in San Diego are seen through a window covered with rain drops as the area braces for an approaching storm Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Heavy rain from a powerful Pacific storm swept through California on Tuesday, providing some relief from a three-year drought. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Students carry an umbrellas as they walks on the University of California Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. California is bracing for the arrival of a new, more powerful Pacific storm following a weekend of scattered rain, showers and snow. The National Weather Service says a low-pressure system off the coast will draw a plume of subtropical moisture northward into the state beginning on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A woman carries an umbrella as she walks on the University of California Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. California is bracing for the arrival of a new, more powerful Pacific storm following a weekend of scattered rain, showers and snow. The National Weather Service says a low-pressure system off the coast will draw a plume of subtropical moisture northward into the state beginning on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A man fills bags with sand from La Jolla Shores as the area braces for an approaching storm Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in San Diego. Heavy rain from a powerful Pacific storm swept through California on Tuesday, and residents in some wildfire-scarred communities scrambled to evacuate as authorities warned of mudflows from unstable hillsides. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
CORRECTS LOCATION TO DRIVEWAY INSTEAD OF STREET - This photo provided by the Glendora Police Department shows a driveway covered in mud in a neighborhood of the suburb of Glendora, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Rare Southern California rains triggered mudslides in an area of the Los Angeles-area foothills scorched bare by a wildfire earlier this year. Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Robert Diaz says a 4-foot-high flow of debris hit a home in the suburb before dawn. (AP Photo/Glendora Police Department)
Work crews finish up cleaning a mud flow at a home in the suburb of Glendora, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Rare Southern California rains triggered mudslides in an area of the Los Angeles-area foothills scorched bare by a wildfire earlier this year. Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Robert Diaz says a 4-foot-high flow of debris hit a home in the suburb before dawn. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A woman walks amid a channel of running water flowing down Rainbow Drive in Glendora, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent burn areas like Glendora have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reaches out to hold an umbrella holding as a woman prepares to leap across a channel of running water flowing down Rainbow Drive in Glendora, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent burn areas like Glendora have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Neighborhood resident Casey Tice uses a rake to help channel running water into a drain along Rainbow Drive in Glendora, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent burn areas like Glendora have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Raindrops are seen on a vehicle's window as a woman crosses a street in Rosemead, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent foothill community burn areas have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man holding an umbrella leaps across a channel of running water flowing down Rainbow Drive in Glendora, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent burn areas like Glendora have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Neighborhood resident Casey Tice uses a rake to help channel running water into a drain along Rainbow Drive in Glendora, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California, where despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent burn areas like Glendora have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Neighborhood resident Casey Tice uses a rake to help channel running water into a drain along Rainbow Drive in Glendora, California, on December 2, 2014, amid a steady and sometimes heavy rainfall soaking southern California. Despite some minor flooding and slick roads, major mudslides or debris flows that had officials and residents on high alert in recent burn areas like Glendora have been avoided. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Caltrans crews work to clean up a torrent of mud and rocks covering part of State Route 91 in Orange County early Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Yorba Linda, Calif. Cars and trucks were stuck for several hours, but no injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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Any delight over the prospect of beneficial precipitation was tempered by concerns about the threat of debris flows from the many areas of California where wildfires have burned away vegetation that would keep soil stable.

A weak storm Sunday was enough to block Pacific Coast Highway west of Malibu with a flow of mud from a section of the steep Santa Monica Mountains denuded by a 44-square-mile fire last year.

The muck was cleared but debris basins that overflowed were still full and will keep the highway from reopening anytime soon.

"We're going to have to wait until the next storm passes," said Patrick Chandler of the California Department of Transportation.

Residents placed sandbags to protect properties in foothill cities northeast of Los Angeles, where some communities below steep mountains have long lived with concrete barriers lining streets in hopes of keeping debris flows out of homes.

Glendora resident Cory Hansen piled sand bags around his home.

"Hundreds, hundreds of them," he told KABC-TV. "We don't know what's going to happen in the next few days."

Back-to-back storms are helping some cities in northwest California reach normal rainfall amounts for the year, or even better, but the reservoirs and Sierra snowpack that provide much of the state's water remain far short of what they should be, after three years of intense drought.

The state Department of Water Resources reported the Sierra snowpack, which counts most for the state's water supply, was at 24 percent of normal for this time of year.

Rain so far, at this early point in California's wet season, has yet to make much of an impact on the state's main reservoirs. Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville have less than 50 percent of their usual water level for the start of December, while Folsom Lake stands at 59 percent, said National Weather Service forecaster Eric Kurth.

"The good news is there's more storms on the way," Kurth said.

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