The Pacific storm brought heavy rains, unleashing flooding in California’s coastal cities

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) A Pacific storm lashed parts of Southern California on Thursday with heavy rain and street flooding, adding to inconveniences as the holiday travel season continues.

The downpour focused on the Ventura and Santa Barbara coastlines in northwest Los Angeles County, swamping areas in the cities of Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Santa Barbara.

Rainfall rates exceeding 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) an hour unleashed flash flooding in Ventura County, the National Weather Service said. Later in the morning, roads began to fill with water in parts of Santa Barbara as the storm brought another flood.

Sven Dybdahl, owner of olive oil and vinegar shop Viva Oliva in downtown Santa Barbara, said he had trouble finding dry routes to work Thursday morning, but most of the heavy rain and flooding had subsided. before 11 a.m. He said he’s thankful that the weather is expected to be an issue for a few days at the end of the holiday shopping season, but he’s not worried about how the rain will affect his businesses. store bottom line.

It had an effect but thankfully it was too late, he said.

The city of Port Hueneme issued evacuation orders for residences on four streets and warned of potential evacuations on four other streets. About 60 homes were affected by the orders, all in a senior citizen community, said Firefighter Andy VanSciver, a Ventura County fire spokesman. An evacuation center was set up in a college gymnasium.

Three people from the senior community were taken to hospitals out of an abundance of caution, and there were several rescues of drivers from flooded vehicles, he said.

The city of Oxnard said in a social media post that several streets and intersections were severely affected. Please stay off city streets for the next few hours until the water recedes, the post said.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Oxnard and the city of Ventura at 1:28 a.m. due to severe thunderstorms, but no tornado activity was immediately observed, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. post on social media.

Hours later at Heritage Coffee and Gifts in downtown Oxnard, manager Carlos Larios said the storm didn’t break their Thursday morning rush despite the dark skies.

People are still coming to get coffee, which is surprising, he said. I don’t think the rain will stop many people from going out.

The storm swept through Northern California earlier in the week as the center of the low-pressure system slowly moved south off the coast. Forecasters describe it as a cutoff low, a storm that breaks from the general flow from west to east and can last for days, increasing the amount of rain.

The system produced hit-and-miss bands of rain instead of the usual widespread rain. Forecasters say the low will move slightly off the coast on Thursday, keeping the moisture away and allowing for some sunshine, but will return.

The San Diego-area weather office warned that instead of weakening, the storm is gathering strength and its main core will move through the region overnight into Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Californians are gearing up for holiday travel and finalizing preparations for Christmas. The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts that 9.5 million people in the region will travel during the year-end holiday season.

The Northeast was hit by an unexpectedly strong storm earlier this week, and parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are still digging out from rain and wind damage. Parts of Maine along the Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers were hit hard.

Flood waters are receding across northern New England, although some local areas are still in flood stage, said Jon Palmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Flood warnings are still in effect for parts of Maine and New Hampshire, he said.

At least four people have died in Maine as a result of the storm.

The storm knocked out power to 400,000 customers in Maine, and restoration was still underway Thursday morning.

Antczak reports from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporters Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.

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