Scattered showers will drop more rain on Southern California today, but clearing should come by nightfall, finally ending a storm that ravaged Orange County and is believed to have contributed to the death of a hiker in the Angeles National Forest.
Forecasters said the rain is being chased by a cold front that will bring the chilliest temperatures of the year to inland areas by Tuesday.
On Sunday, rescue workers discovered the body of lost hiker Karen Leigh Tellez. In Orange County, residents got a respite in which to mop up after the El Nino-related downpour that dumped more than 7 inches of rain in some areas, causing widespread flooding, mudslides and road closures.
Tellez, a 40-year-old mother of five from Palmdale, was reported missing Friday after she became separated from a group of hiking companions. Her body was discovered by members of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team about 10:30 a.m. on Liebre Mountain.
She was found lying under a large oak tree about 20 feet off a mountain road.
"She looked very peaceful," said Capt. Rich Byrum of the Santa Clarita sheriff's station search and rescue team. "She had put herself under a tree and did what she could for protection."
Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Parker said it appears that Tellez died of hypothermia, but the exact cause of her death will be determined by the Los Angeles County coroner's office. Authorities said they have not ruled out foul play.
Tellez was last seen about 1:30 p.m. Friday after cold, wet weather prompted her to abandon a hike with three companions. She said she planned to head back down the mountain because her youngest son was expecting to be picked up from school. Instead of descending the mountain safely, Tellez apparently became disoriented by pounding rain.
As daylight broke in Orange County on Sunday, residents and emergency workers were already cleaning up the mess left behind by one of the most intense storms ever to hit there.
Saturday's storm cut across the county, pummeling inland areas including Lake Forest and Silverado Canyon and the coastline from Huntington Beach to Newport Bay to Laguna Beach.
Damage estimates have not been totaled but are expected to be surprisingly light, especially given the severity of the brief storm, emergency officials said.
Most of the residents of the Del Mar Mobile Estates in Huntington Beach, who were evacuated amid rising water levels, returned home Sunday to inspect the damage. About a dozen homes were severely water damaged, but the rest of the 142 homes were in good condition, said manager Pat Brown.
Forty-nine residents, many of whom are elderly, spent the night at a Red Cross emergency shelter set up at a local school. Between late Friday and Saturday, the Red Cross served 525 warm meals to the flood victims, officials said.
"People are doing much better than yesterday," said Brown said. "It's clearing up, and you can see blue skies now."
There were no reports of injuries or drownings, despite several unconfirmed reports of people and children being swept away by churning waters, officials said.
A low tide and ongoing efforts to keep storm drainage channels cleared helped minimize damage, said Peter Dalquist, engineer with Orange County's Public Facilities and Resources Department.
"It could've been worse," Dalquist said. "We were very lucky."
Weather experts say residents will have at least until Wednesday to dry out--and prepare for the next storm, possibly later this week.
Laguna Beach was perhaps hardest hit in the weekend storm. In all, nearly 8 inches of rain poured down since Friday night. On Sunday, weary cleanup crews joined residents and merchants using shovels, wheelbarrows and other tools to scoop up mud and muck.
"We got our butts kicked yesterday," said Laguna Beach public works employee Kevin Rettmier, who at one point Saturday morning was riding a tractor trying to clear debris in 4 feet of raging water at Laguna Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway. "It was a scary situation."
Still, fire officials said there was much to be happy about.
"I don't want to downplay the seriousness of what occurred, but the good news is that we did not lose anybody," said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Scott Brown, adding that crews had responded to several hundred emergency calls Saturday.
By nightfall Saturday, more rain had fallen on Orange County than during any other 24-hour period in more than a century, or since records have been kept, officials said.
On Sunday, sections of Laguna Canyon Road were closed due to mudslides and water from swollen reservoirs and irrigation ponds spilling onto the road. Residents without trucks were forced to take Pacific Coast Highway or El Toro Road into the beach-side city.