It's no El Nino, but Saturday's heavy rains added to a wetter-than-average February across the Los Angeles region, forecasters said.
The Pacific storm is expected to drop as much as 2 inches of rain by Monday night, though only one-tenth of an inch had been recorded in downtown Los Angeles by Saturday afternoon, said Bruce Rockwell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
A funnel cloud touched down in Orange, snapping cables, tearing shingles from homes and ripping 200 square feet of roofing from a vacant business on Hariton Street, authorities said.
It struck three places between 1:50 and 2:20 p.m., damaging at least three homes a few blocks west of Chapman University but injuring no one.
"It's been raining like crazy," said Orange Police Lt. John Higley.
The storm could unload more than a foot of snow in the mountains of Southern California, Rockwell said. Between 8 and 16 inches of snow was predicted for mountains above 6,000 feet. The weather service issued a winter storm warning in those areas.
By midafternoon, both Mountain High and Mt. Baldy ski resorts had recorded 6 inches of new snow. Moderate snow was also reported at Mt. Wilson. Southeast winds of 25 to 35 mph were forecast, which could produce gusts of snow and low visibility through today.
There were plenty of fender-benders but no reported fatal traffic accidents on freeways throughout the county Saturday, said Officer Charles Blair of the California Highway Patrol. By 3 p.m., nearly 300 car crashes had been reported, about 25% more than usually occur on dry days, he said.
In Encino, about 330 customers lost electricity for less than three hours because of a downed power line, said Lisa Tashiro, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Water and Power. It was not clear whether the storm was a factor in the outage, she said.
The season has seen more rain than an average winter, Rockwell said. In Chatsworth, for example, the average rainfall hovers around 3.5 inches in both January and February. This year, January saw more than double that--7.5 inches--and this month's tally had already exceeded 5 inches before the weekend's rain.
Rockwell said the increase is probably nothing more than the "normal variations of weather," but noted that the early months of the year--always the wettest--have been rainier than usual in recent years. The average rainfall totals are based on a 30-year span, he said.
The 1997-'98 season--when El Nino lashed the coast for months--was one of the wettest on record, Rockwell said. Burbank recorded 15.5 inches of rain in February 1998, compared with 4.8 so far this year.
"Although it seems like we're getting a lot of rain, and it is more than normal, it's not anywhere near what we saw during El Nino," Rockwell said.
Times staff writer Jack Leonard contributed to this story.