- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (AP) — A powerful fall storm packing strong winds and rain began easing up early Wednesday without causing the heavy mudslides and debris flows that residents throughout the state had feared.

A flash flood warning was allowed to expire in a part of Santa Barbara county scorched by recent wildfire, though the National Weather Service continued cautioning residents throughout the region to be prepared for resurgent rains that could prompt floods.

“At this point there could very well be a quick little burst of rain as its passes over us,” Weather Service spokeswoman Jamie Stern said. “So residents definitely should still continue to be on watch.”

The rains left Southern California’s morning commute a mess, with jackknifed big-rigs and spun-out vehicles littering freeways and travel lanes impassable because of hubcap-deep pools caused by overwhelmed storm drains.

The California Highway Patrol said there were 186 traffic crashes in Los Angeles County during the six-hour period ending at 6 a.m. There were 19 crashes during the same period a week ago, a dry day.

Residents in the area of the massive Station Fire in Los Angeles County, who had prepared for the rains by barricading their driveways with plywood dams, began breathing easier as rains tapered off to a heavy drizzle.

“From our standpoint, we’re in pretty good shape, unless we have a huge increase in rain,” said retired geologist Jim Conel outside his home near a damp hillside blackened by the previous months’ flames. “Thank the Lord, or whoever: it’s OK.”

High winds have knocked out power to more than 250,000 residents throughout the state.

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