This week's pair of thunderstorms have pushed rainfall totals to higher than normal, and more rain is expected by the end of the week, meteorologists said.
The rain brought a spate of accidents, including one in which a Camarillo man died.
Ventura, Saticoy and El Rio have received 12% more rain than what's typical for this time of year, with other areas, including Oxnard, Lake Casitas and the Matilija Dam averaging slightly more than normal, said officials for the Ventura County Flood Control District.
That's good news, county officials say.
"The more normal years we have," said Robin Jester, an engineer with the county flood control district, "the less likely it is we'll have drought conditions in Southern California."
And there's another perk.
"It means residents aren't paying for as much water because their lawns are being watered by rainfall," she said.
Although skies turned sunny by Tuesday afternoon and are expected to remain clear today, forecasters said more wet weather is on the way Thursday and Friday.
"But it looks like just a light rain," said meteorologist Mike Wofford of the National Weather Service. "The worst of it is over."
Tuesday's thunderstorm stayed just long enough to cause a few problems throughout the county.
Slick roadways forced Oxnard officers to end a high-speed pursuit shortly before midnight Monday night. The 18-year-old driver they were pursuing died when he slammed his 1985 Oldsmobile into a telephone pole.
Officers said they tried to stop Oscar Quezada for speeding, but he refused to pull over and led authorities on a pursuit down rain-slicked roads at speeds reaching more than 100 mph. After running several red lights, police stopped their pursuit just west of Pleasant Valley Road in Oxnard.
As the Oldsmobile tried to round a curve on 5th Street, it spun out of control and crashed, causing the car to burst into flames. Coroner's examiners said Quezada died of blunt-force injuries to his chest.
In a separate incident at about the same time, police said a man failed to negotiate a left turn on Harbor Boulevard at Peninsula, causing his pickup truck to spin out of control and overturn into a drainage ditch filled with three feet of water.
Ventura City firefighters extricated the driver and his two passengers, who were taken to Ventura County Medical Center with moderate injuries. The pickup's driver, 25-year-old Michael Murphy of Port Hueneme, was later booked on suspicion of felony drunk driving, police said.
The stormy skies also generated a lightning bolt that struck a home in the 400 block of Andrew Drive in Ojai just after 2 a.m. The bolt left a hole in the roof and the electric current pushed a few bolts out of an adjoining wall. Despite the damage, sleeping residents inside the home were not hurt.
Stormy winds also caused power outages beginning about 2:15 a.m., said Nancy Williams, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison. About 10,000 county residents had power outages of at least 30 seconds, with pockets in Ojai experiencing longer outages.
"That's where the most significant outages were," she said. "There was some lightning, and the winds downed wires."
Most customers were up by morning, although scattered pockets in Ventura, Ojai and Oxnard were without power throughout the day, Williams said.
The heavy downpour did not, however, scathe too many strawberries, said Alan Laird, deputy commissioner for the Ventura County Agriculture Commission.
"We don't expect anything significant," Laird said Tuesday. "For the most part, people were out there in rains picking the ripe ones before the heavy rains hit last night, so they may have caught up. The greener ones can take a lot more than the softer red ones."
Despite the recent heavy rains, Dan Detmer, a hydrologist for the United Water Conservation District, said the totals are not approaching those of the spring of 1998, when El Nino brought a steady series of storms to the region.
In fact, the basins still are not full in the Oxnard Plain, he said.
"This will help a little more," Detmer said, "but the rains are kind of leveling off and we'll see less as we get into summer."
The latest rainstorm brought 1.02 inches to Santa Paula, with Lake Casitas, Matilija Dam and Ojai getting nearly an inch. Most other areas received one-third to one-half of an inch.
Times staff writer Matt Surman contributed to this report.
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Here are unofficial rainfall figures from the Ventura County Flood Control District for the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Oct. 1 is the beginning of the official rain year.
24-hour Season Normal Location total total to date Camarillo 0.43 11.27 12.44 Casitas Dam 0.51 23.47 21.84 Casitas Rec. Center 0.98 22.86 21.82 Fillmore 0.47 15.33 17.60 Matilija Dam 0.98 25.22 24.96 Moorpark 0.51 11.41 13.71 Ojai 0.87 18.77 19.91 Upper Ojai 0.59 22.10 21.84 Oxnard 0.35 13.09 13.61 Piru 0.59 12.78 16.03 Port Hueneme 0.43 12.62 13.15 Santa Paula 1.02 16.09 16.48 Simi Valley 0.55 11.80 13.42 Thousand Oaks 0.43 11.20 14.36 Ventura Govt. Center 0.39 17.24 15.05
Source: Ventura County Flood Control District