Los Angeles: Hundreds of homeowners in fire-ravaged areas were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday as Californians braced for a powerful storm threatening torrential rain, flash floods and possible mudslides.
The storm, the third to hit into the region since Monday, was expected to dump up to 10 inches of rain in some areas before Thursday, raising fears of landslides in hilly regions denuded of vegetation by last year`s wildfires.
National Weather Service officials said the storm could produce hourly rainfall rates of up to 1.5 inches in fire-affected areas.
"Rainfall at these rates could cause significant flash flooding, with life-threatening mud and debris flows in and below the recent burn areas, especially since the grounds are saturated," according to an NWS advisory.
Authorities on Wednesday issued evacuation orders to around 750 homes in the Los Angeles area deemed to be threatened by landslides.
Los Angeles County Fire Department chief P Michael Freeman said residents and public officials were "involved in a race against Mother Nature”.
"And if she wins the race there`s no way we can assure that firefighters, as well-equipped and as trained as they are, will be able to get into your neighbourhood and make rescues," Freeman said.
Weather officials yesterday issued a rare tornado warning as a storm packing winds of 60 miles per hour battered the region.