California 'weather bomb' kills two

The storm brought heavy rains and cyclone-force winds, prompting the evacuation of more than a hundred homes

California 'weather bomb' kills two

A man struggles against gusty wind and heavy rain as he walks along a pier in Huntington Beach, California. | Image: Jae C. Hong AP/Press Association Images

At least two people have died after a huge Pacific storm ravaged roads, cut power and opened two sinkholes in southern California.

The storm brought heavy rains and cyclone-force winds, prompting the evacuation of more than a hundred homes threatened by mudslides near Los Angeles.

And in the LA area utilities companies said power was out for more than 100,000 customers.

The storm - the strongest to hit the Golden State in at least six years - was at its most fierce late on Friday afternoon, dropping over 8in (20cm) of rain in one area.

It was expected to last until Saturday afternoon.

The storm was a case of "bombogenesis", or "weather bomb", which occurs "when a mid-latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours", according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A millibar measures atmospheric pressure.

The agency says a "weather bomb" can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters.

One man was found dead in a submerged car in the desert town of Victorville, about 100 miles (160km) east of Los Angeles, officials said.

And in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, a man was electrocuted when a tree falling in heavy rain downed power lines that hit his car.

In the same area a sinkhole swallowed two cars, the second on live TV as viewers watched it teeter on the edge before plunging in.

Firefighters rescued one person from the first car, and the driver got out of the second before it fell. No one was injured.

Other traffic deaths were reported on treacherous roads, but it was not clear if they were a result of the storm, and firefighters had to rescue dozens of people trapped in flooded cars.

The severe storm came after months of wet weather that has dramatically eased California's years-long drought.

The risk of mudslides led to the evacuation of 180 homes in Duarte, about 20 miles (32km) east of LA.

About 300 flights were delayed or cancelled at Los Angeles International Airport, and dozens more in San Francisco and other parts of the region.

Amtrak cancelled its rail trips for a long stretch of the state's southern and central coast.

"It's crazy," said Robin Johnson, an academic adviser at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "It's just pouring down rain.

"The wind is just going nuts."

The storm was not expected to bring significant rain in the far north, where damage to spillways of the Lake Oroville dam forced evacuation of 188,000 people last weekend.

(Additional reporting from IRN)