The first of three winter storms rolled into Southern California overnight, bringing periods of heavy rain in a region that's seeing its wettest winter in years.
The first storm arrived late Wednesday and will continue through early Thursday. Expect rain, snow and strong winds with gusts up to 45 mph in the Antelope Valley. Downpours will bring a flood threat and potentially dangerous travel conditions.
In Commerce, lanes on the 5 Freeway were closed overnight due to flooding, causing one of several traffic tie-ups that slowed the morning drive.
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In coastal communities, high surf is expected Thursday through Monday, posing dangers to beachgoers and operators of small vessells and bringing the potential of coastal erosion and flooding. The storms have a potential to bring the highest surf the Central Coast has seen in recent years.
A winter weather advisory will be in effect in the mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties from 10 p.m. Wednesday until Thursday night. Schools in the Big Bear Valley and Rim of the World districts were closed Thursday.
The storms will add to what has been one of California's wettest winters in years.
"We're talking about five days of stormy weather," said NBC4 forecaster Crystal Egger. "It will be wet through Monday. We're anticipating some problems because we don't get a chance to dry out between storms."
The first storm began moving out of the region Thursday morning.
Storm 2: Early Friday Into Friday Evening
- Moderate to heavy rain: 1 to 3 inches
- Snowfall: 8 to 16 inches above 5,000 feet (snow level could drop to 4,000 feet)
- Strong southwest winds
Storm 3: Sunday Into Monday
- Heavy rain: 1.5 to 3 inches (5 inches in the hills)
- Strong southwest winds
The systems arrive as authorities continue to assess damage from last week's storms in Northern California.
Days of rain turned streets into rivers and living rooms into swimming pools throughout the region.
In San Benito County south of San Francisco, where dozens of people were rescued from flooding homes in a dramatic early morning operation this week, workers spent a dry day checking on damage including two streets and possibly a county bridge, said Kevin O'Neill, the county's emergency services manager.
About 50 houses along Lovers Lane in the small rural town of Hollister suffered high water damage after a nearby creek overflowed but no estimate had been calculated on the cost of the damage.
The rain and snowfall that prompted a rare blizzard warning in parts of the Sierra Nevada was helping much of Northern California recover from a six-year drought. The series of storms has also added 39 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe since Jan. 1.
Mountains near Big Sur in Monterey County registered more than 34 inches -- nearly 3 feet -- of rain since Jan. 2, according to the National Weather Service.
The rain toppled or damaged about 370 trees in San Francisco alone. A woman was killed by a falling tree while walking across a golf course in San Ramon, about 35 miles east of San Francisco.
In Sonoma County, crews surveyed damage after the Russian River receded from its highest level in a decade. The water spilled into streets and into homes, forcing residents to travel by boat.
Kelly Huston, a deputy director with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said Friday that counties were just starting the process of tabulating costs.
"It's likely to take us a little while," he said in an email to The Associated Press.