Up to 3 inches of rain fell in the hillside areas of Ventura County, triggering several mudslides, knocking out power lines and causing minor street flooding before the most powerful storm of the winter moved east Thursday.
Although there were a few rain-related fender-benders, no major injuries or damage was reported, authorities said. Mudslides blocked at least a dozen roads near Ojai and below the burn areas that rim the Santa Clara River Valley, but most of the mess was cleaned up by midday.
"In a global sense, we did pretty good," said Jayne Laber, the county's senior hydrologist.
"The Piru burn area had some runoff and we got a little bit of runoff in the nonburned areas, but it was not real significant," Laber said.
Rainfall totals ranged from just under 2 inches in Port Hueneme, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley to 6 inches at Matilija Dam in the remote north county. Ventura, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Moorpark and Ojai received a little more than 3 inches, while Oxnard recorded 2 inches and Camarillo 2.4.
About 80,000 customers in Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties lost electrical power temporarily because of equipment failures related to the storm, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison Co. said. In most cases, service was restored by Thursday afternoon.
The California Highway Patrol said it fielded more than 500 traffic accident calls throughout Southern California during the night, more than three times the normal number.
In Orange County, motorist Matthew Christopher Dodge, 25, of Signal Hill was killed when his car apparently skidded out of control on a San Diego Freeway onramp during a downpour and plunged into a rain-swollen flood control channel in Irvine about 5:30 a.m., the California Highway Patrol said.
The car ended up about a quarter of a mile downstream, lodged against a concrete pillar. Dodge's body was recovered half a mile farther downstream when the floodwaters began to recede about three hours later, officials said.
Flooding closed about a dozen roads in Orange County, including a stretch of Laguna Canyon Road between the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road and the San Diego Freeway. All had reopened by afternoon. Wind gusts toppled several trees.
In the Lytle Creek Canyon area of San Bernardino County, ravaged by wildfires in the fall and mudslides in December, sheets of mud and rivers of rock flowed across sections of the twisting, two-lane mountain road before dawn, washing out numerous stretches. An occasional boulder toppled from a steep cliff face and planted itself in the middle of a lane.
Debra King, 49, moved to Lytle Creek from Harrisburg, Pa., with her husband, Charles, and their two dogs last February, and "it's been nothing but trouble since," she said. "Fires, mudslides, we've seen it all. I want to go back to Pennsylvania."
On Thursday morning, her small Toyota made it down six miles of rocky road before the muffler fell off and she gave up trying to get to her job at a computer company.
The road was expected to remain closed to through traffic through this) afternoon, according to county spokesman David Wert.
Residents had been advised to evacuate Wednesday afternoon, but for the most part they stayed put, figuring that if they had made it that far, they would last another round.
"We've lasted through the fire, and we've lasted through the floods, so unless we have an earthquake, I think we're going to make it," said Debra Hughes, owner of the Bonita Ranch Campground.
In the tiny nearby community of Scotland, half a dozen residents shoveled a foot of mud from the middle of the road, using it to fill and tamp down a waist-deep sinkhole that opened up overnight.
The storm swept through the northern half of the state before reaching Southern California, generating waves up to 35 feet high along the coast between the Bay Area and Point Conception. Heavy surf washed into the streets of several seaside towns, but there were no reports of major damage.
Winds downed power poles at more than 600 locations in Northern and Central California, and nearly 500,000 customers lost power between the Oregon border and Bakersfield. Service was restored, except in some rural communities, by nightfall Thursday.
Street crews spent the day cleaning up in Sacramento, where winds downed more than 150 trees.
An 85-foot elm crashed through the roof of a Victorian home, briefly trapping a 66-year-old woman. She escaped serious injury, officials said.
Heavy snow fell in the High Sierra, and drivers were required to use chains on the trans-Sierra highways that remained open. As much as 4 1/2 feet was added to the Sierra snowpack, which provides much of the state's summer water supply.
In Southern California, 7.23 inches of rain fell at the Thompson Creek Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains during the storm.
Other top readings included 5.91 at the top of San Marcos Pass in Santa Barbara County; 5.07 in Pasadena; 3.64 in Altadena; and 2.91 in Glendora.
The storm total in downtown Los Angeles was 2.85 inches, raising the total for the rainy season, which runs from July 1 through June 30, to 8.02 inches. The normal total for the date is 10.54 inches.
The National Weather Service said skies should be mostly cloudy across Southern California today, with a slight chance of rain in the coastal valleys and a good chance of snow flurries in the mountains above 4,000 feet.
No rain or snow was expected Saturday, but showers could return Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday, forecasters said.
Wilson reported from San Bernardino County, Tran from Orange County and Malnic from Los Angeles County. Times staff writer Lynne Barnes in Ventura County and Associated Press in San Francisco contributed to this report.