Powerful storm hits Southern California, flooding highways

In this Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire, a large stone pine tree believed to be 100-years-old came down into this Santa Barbara, Calif., home during Saturday's powerful winter storm. A wind gust in Santa Barbara County topped 80 mph (128 kph) as the storm moved south and later dropped more than a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) of rain in five minutes. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The second in a string of powerful storms battered California on Saturday, shutting key highways after water and mud rushed into lanes from bare hillsides in wildfire burn areas where thousands of residents were under evacuation orders.

Flash flood warnings were issued for huge swaths of Southern California and forecasters said the system brought more than 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain at lower elevations and several feet of snow in the mountains, where whiteout conditions closed roads.

A wind gust in Santa Barbara County topped 80 mph (128 kph) as the storm moved south and at one point dropped more than a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) of rain in five minutes. Trees and power lines were down across the region.

In Malibu, where the Woolsey fire last year destroyed homes and burned hillsides bare, officials closed Pacific Coast Highway and many other roadways after mud carried trees and rocks into lanes. Residents whose homes survived the flames barricaded their properties with sandbags to protect their properties from floodwaters.

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