LOS ANGELES — A powerful storm system with drenching rain, heavy snow and high winds lashed California on Monday, but forecasters warned the worst was yet to come.
Even stronger storms were bearing down on the state and threatened to dump another 5 to 10 inches of rain during the next two days.
Virtually the entire state was affected by the bad weather.
Some locations in Southern California had received more than 12 inches of rain, said meteorologist Jamie Meier of the National Weather Service. It was the most rainfall from one storm event since 2005, he said.
"That will make for a pretty good wallop, especially considering how dry things have been for the last two years," Meier said.
Downtown Los Angeles got 5 1/4 inches of rain since Friday morning, more than a third of the average annual precipitation.
The National Weather Service said a record .98 inches of rain fell at Los Angeles International Airport Monday, the most for the date since 1952.
About 40 residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland were briefly evacuated Monday morning amid fears that a nearby creek would flood.
A Kern County Fire Department statement said 2,000 residents had been ordered to leave their homes, but McFarland Police Chief David Oberhoffer told the Bakersfield Californian that only a few dozen people showed up at an evacuation center.
Resident Cristian Abundis, who lives on a street where water ran a foot deep, returned from an evacuation center and quickly started filling sand bags.
"We just want to be prepared," he said, dropping the bags around his doors and driveway.
Gary Farrell, general manager of the McFarland Parks and Recreation District, said Santa Fe Railroad crews kept Poso Creek free of debris so it wouldn't overflow.Check weather.com for more about California storms
Elsewhere, a small twin-engine airplane was reported missing on a 65-mile flight from Palm Springs to Chino. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says a wreckage was found near Lake Perris but investigators won't be certain that it's the missing plane until they can get to the scene on Tuesday, if weather permits.
The California Highway Patrol reported two rain-related traffic deaths Sunday. A 3-year-old boy was ejected from an SUV that went out of control in heavy rain in the Fresno area, and a 22-year-old man was thrown from a vehicle that hydroplaned and crashed in the Bakersfield area.
Flash-flood watches and warnings were in effect Monday for some places, particularly mountain areas still scarred by wildfires.
Residents of La Canada Flintridge were among those keeping a wary eye on the rain after a 250-square-mile wildfire last year denuded towering slopes above communities along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
More than 40 homes in the hillside city just north of Los Angeles were damaged or destroyed by a mudslide in February.
"We've just had some sprinkling rains today. Occasionally it gets a littler harder but nothing to worry about," said Del Tucker, a retired geologist who has lived in the area since homes were built there in 1962.
Only on NBCNews.com
- From belief to betrayal: How America fell for Armstrong
- US to Syria neighbors: Be ready to act on WMDs
- China: One-child policy is here to stay
- New 'Practice Range' shooter game says it’s from NRA
- 'Gifted' priest indicted in crystal meth case
- China's state media admits to air pollution crisis
- French to send 1,000 more troops to Mali
Justin Wright, 29, waited at a cafe table outside a grocery store in La Canada Flintridge, hoping for a lull in the rain so he could dash back to his truck.
"It's scary to drive in this stuff," he said "It's coming down so hard you can't see." The rain never stopped, so he eventually pulled up his collar and made a run for the warmth of his truck.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews were working to restore power to the last of about 282,000 customers that lost electricity since the storm arrived. Southern California Edison had 13,000 customers still without power.
Repair crews braced for predicted winds of up to 45 mph, along with heavy rain and snow in elevated areas.
"The thing that we're seeing right now, we're starting to get reports of winds, and winds are what can cause more problems than the rain itself," Edison spokesman Steve Conroy said.
Elsewhere, a 20-mile stretch of scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard was closed to commuters after a rock and mudslide Sunday night. The California Highway Patrol said no one was hurt. PCH also was closed for a time in Orange County by a mudslide at Dana Point.
Areas of San Bernardino County that burned recently were under close watch.
"We're doing preparation because the height of the rain for our county is going to be Tuesday and Wednesday," fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said. "There's thousands and thousands of sand bags, and I don't know how many tons of sand we've placed everywhere."
In the San Bernardino Mountains, a 100-foot tree fell between two businesses in downtown Big Bear but only damaged a gazebo.
"It couldn't have landed more perfectly if we'd planned it," said Tiffany Swantek, a spokeswoman for the local sheriff's station.
Associated Press writers Gillian Flaccus in Santa Ana, Terence Chea and Jason Dearen in San Francisco, Garance Burke in Fresno and Sue Manning in Los Angeles contributed to this report. Jeff Nachtigal reported for the AP from McFarland.
© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.