Downpours fall for hours on thirsty California

Heavy Rains Causing Mudslides

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Hours of downpours brought California a dose of relief from a three-year drought with few of the negative consequences the long-awaited storm had threatened, at least so far.

The heaviest torrents fell on Southern California, where the National Weather Service said up to 6 inches of rain was possible in some areas by the time the storm ends Wednesday.

Downtown Los Angeles had received 1.15 inches of rain, breaking a 1961 record for the day, according to the weather service. More than 2 inches fell on Santa Barbara. Totals of around an inch also set daily records in Oxnard and at airports in Los Angeles, Camarillo, Long Beach, Lancaster and Palmdale.

In Northern California, nearly 1 1/2 inches fell on San Francisco, where historic cable cars and their 100-year-old braking systems had to be shut down. Stockton and San Jose also saw more than an inch.

Traffic was snarled and flights were delayed in cities around the state.

The rains had brought worries of mudslides and flooding in wildfire-scarred communities that did not immediately materialize, but the saturation from Tuesday's rains and the next round of showers through Wednesday could change that quickly.

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California Storms (updated 12/12/14)
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Downpours fall for hours on thirsty California
Trending: Carmel River diverted to allow dam removal, prevent catastrophic mudslide http://t.co/4dKkwPf8nA http://t.co/FPNi1EPEaF
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
Torrential rain triggering mudslides in Camarillo Springs. Residents rescued after mud trapped them in their homes. http://t.co/0S8K09ZHMF
Several mudslides in Calif. Evacuations #happeningnow. Watch #News5Today for the video. http://t.co/xOAqCIoOKH
California is bracing for what some meteorologists are calling the fiercest storm in over 5 years.
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
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)
Satellite Imagery of Northern California taken by the NOAA (12/10/14)

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

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)
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)
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)
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In Camarillo Springs, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, gushing water and muddy debris began pouring from adjacent hillsides Tuesday, prompting the mandatory evacuation of about 75 homes for much of the day. The order was lifted around 6 p.m., but authorities urged people to stay away voluntarily.

A handful of residents huddled at a nearby church as they waited to learn the fate of their homes and bemoaned a string of bad luck that began with the 2013 blaze.

"It'll be the locusts next," evacuee Rose Martin told the Ventura County Star. "It's that mountain. You never know what it's going to do."

In Orange County, roughly 100 miles to the southeast, about 60 homes in rural Silverado Canyon were under a voluntary evacuation notice. The area burned over the summer and has been the site of previous mudslides, including one that killed a girl in 2005 and another in 1969 that killed six people who sought shelter in the fire station.

Residents worked together to evacuate large animals, and those who chose not to evacuate were gathering in the tiny town's lone cafe to wait out the rain and keep warm.

"We have to take this seriously because we don't know what's going to happen," longtime resident Connie Nelson said. "We'll just deal with it as it comes. We take care of people up here."

Three years of devastating drought has left the Sierra Nevada snowpack - which counts for most of the state's water supply - at just 24 percent of normal for this time of year. Los Angeles, like many communities, has had less than half of the usual rain in 2014.

It would take many more storms like Tuesday's for the state to make up the balance and pull out of the drought.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January and called on residents to reduce consumption by 20 percent. As the storm blew in, new state data was released showing Californians aren't meeting his goal: Statewide water usage was down just 6.7 percent in October.

Meantime, another potential problem awaited Southern California coastal residents: A thick tangle of garbage that gets washed from city streets into storm drains and then onto beaches after major storms.

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