IMAGE: CAR SWEPT INTO RIVER
Mike Meadows  /  AP
Two people were rescued after this car was swept into the Arroyo Seco River in Los Angeles on Sunday.
updated 1/27/2008 10:50:28 PM ET 2008-01-28T03:50:28

Fast-moving thunderstorms brought new waves of rain on Sunday to Southern California, following days of drenching weather and heavy mountain snowfall and raising fears of mudslides and flooding.

The worst of the storm was over, and Monday promised to bring a spell of clear weather, forecasters said.

"Things will start to die down as the night goes on," said National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kittell.

Up to 3 inches of rain had fallen by early afternoon in valley and coastal areas since nightfall Saturday, with about 4 inches in the mountains, forecasters said. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph were reported in some areas.

Officials said the rain brought a threat of serious slides on hillsides stripped of vegetation by last year's wildfires. Mud and minor rock slides prompted authorities to shut a highway through a burned area near San Diego. Voluntary evacuations were in effect in heavily burned Modjeska Canyon in Orange County.

The Los Angeles County and Orange County fire departments were on standby for possible flash floods and slides. Flash flood watches remained in effect through Sunday night for Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

To avoid overflow, the flood gates at the Big Tujunga Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains were opened Sunday, releasing 500 cubic feet of water a second.

Department of Public Works spokesman Gary Boze said the controlled flooding was routine during heavy storms.

In downtown Los Angeles, Sunday's basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers was delayed 12 minutes after a small leak in the Staples Center roof allowed a steady flow of water to fall on the court.

Video: Storms batter Calif. The Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, meanwhile, canceled horse races for the sixth day this month because of wet conditions on the synthetic track.

The storm system also soaked parts of Northern California and the weather service posted winter storm warnings for parts of the Sierra Nevada.

A highway was closed in the mountains south of San Francisco, and Pacific Gas and Electric said about 2,700 homes and businesses were still blacked out because of earlier storms.

A series of fierce storms has caused deadly avalanches, flooded streets and set off mud and rock slides in recent days. Some areas have received more moisture in a week than during the entire rainy season last year.

Three skiers were killed Friday by a trio of avalanches that swept through canyons outside the trails of Mountain High ski resort at Wrightwood, northeast of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains. A fourth man escaped the avalanches.

Avalanches are unusual in the San Gabriel Mountains, but the peaks had been hit by 3 feet or more of new snow this past week, drawing thousands of skiers and snowboarders.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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