LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. — Another powerful storm struck California with heavy rain and snow Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes, closing a major interstate highway and knocking out power to thousands of people.
Forecasters said rain could fall at 1 1/2 inches an hour on soil already saturated from two days of storms.
Some residents refused to comply with evacuation orders in Los Angeles-area foothill communities below the San Gabriel Mountains, where 250 square miles of forest burned in a summer wildfire presented the danger of mudslides.
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies told residents who refused to leave that it might not be possible to rescue them and asked them to fill out forms stating that they had been advised of the danger.
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Two Southwest Airlines aircraft were struck by lightning Wednesday morning after reaching their arrival gates at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The Grapevine stretch of I-5 was closed because of snow and ice in 4,100-foot-high Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles. Vehicles were to be escorted down by the Highway Patrol.
Since the beginning of the week, more than 300,000 Southern California Edison customers had lost power. About 13,000 were being restored Wednesday.
Northern California was coping relatively well. Fifty homes were ordered evacuated as a central coast river rose near Felton Grove in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but it began to recede late in the day.
State authorities also advised of considerable avalanche danger on steep, north-facing slopes of the central Sierra Nevada after as much as 30 inches of snow fell since Sunday. Blizzard conditions cut visibility to near zero on U.S. I-80 over Donner Summit, and blowing snow made driving dangerous between Sacramento and Reno, Nev.
In Arizona, officials warned residents to prepare for up to 3 feet of snow in the north today and Friday, up to 4 inches of rain in the Phoenix area and 2 inches of rain around Tucson. Travel on Interstates 40 and 17 was slow after the roads were closed overnight.