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Rain, snow, winds hammer California

LOS ANGELES — A powerful storm system with drenching rain, heavy snow and high winds lashed California on Monday, but forecasters warned the worst was yet to come.

Even stronger storms were bearing down on the state and threatened to dump another 5 to 10 inches of rain during the next two days.

Virtually the entire state was affected by the bad weather.

Some locations in Southern California had received more than 12 inches of rain, said meteorologist Jamie Meier of the National Weather Service. It was the most rainfall from one storm since 2005, he said.

"That will make for a pretty good wallop, especially considering how dry things have been for the last two years," Meier said.

Thousands of residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland were evacuated for hours Monday amid fears of major flooding.

At one point, an estimated 400 to 500 homes were in danger as the result of the stormy weather that has gripped California since late last week, triggering mostly minor flooding, mudslides, road closures and power outages.

McFarland resident Cristian Abundis, who lives on a street where water had been running a foot deep, returned from an evacuation center and quickly started filling sand bags.

"We just want to be prepared," he said, dropping the bags around his doors and driveway.

Gary Farrell, general manager of the McFarland Parks and Recreation District, said the flooding was caused when Poso Creek became clogged with debris and overflowed. Santa Fe Railroad crews cleared the debris.

Elsewhere, a small twin-engine airplane was reported overdue on a 65-mile flight from Palm Springs to Chino, and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department intended to conduct a search while the Federal Aviation Administration checked with other airports to see if the pilot had diverted, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Gregor said late Monday that small plane wreckage had been found, but he could not confirm if it was the missing plane.

The California Highway Patrol reported two rain-related traffic deaths Sunday. A 3-year-old boy was ejected from an SUV that went out of control in heavy rain in the Fresno area, and a 22-year-old man was thrown from a vehicle that hydroplaned and crashed in the Bakersfield area.

Flash-flood watches and warnings were in effect Monday for some places, particularly mountain areas still scarred by wildfires.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews were working to restore power to the last of about 282,000 customers that lost electricity since the storm arrived. Southern California Edison had 13,000 customers still without power.

Elsewhere, a 20-mile stretch of scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Oxnard was closed to commuters after a rock and mudslide Sunday night. The California Highway Patrol said no one was hurt.

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