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Storm Moves Out, Cold Wind Blasts Southern California

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(credit: AP)

(credit: AP)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The latest round of rain to hit waterlogged Southern California has moved east and out of the state, leaving powerful, frigid wind in its wake.

Gusts of more than 50 mph hit parts of northern Los Angeles County early Thursday, with colder air and potentially damaging winds expected throughout the day. Snow levels on north-facing mountain slopes were expected to fall between 2000 and 2,500 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

One person was killed by a falling tree and a snowboarder was missing, power outages were scattered around the state and some roads and highways were closed.

The California Highway Patrol reported downed trees and tumbleweeds on various Los Angeles-area freeways and streets, making it treacherous for motorists.

In San Diego, the U.S. Coast Guard and others searched in strong winds and high seas for a 20-foot boat reported to be in distress.

The Coast Guard received a report at about 5 p.m. of a boat taking on water about a mile north of Point Loma and boats and helicopters were searching the waters where a high surf advisory and gale warning were in effect. The search ended late Wednesday and was expected to resume at dawn on Thursday.

The region, however, escaped widespread problems in the two-day round of foul weather, and communities east and south of Los Angeles that were hit hard by runoff in a days-long series of storms last week were able to focus on cleaning up without additional new damage.

Rain was lighter than expected in Highland in San Bernardino County, where 50 homes remain evacuated after being swamped by a pre-Christmas mudflow and more than 100,000 sandbags had been used to build walls to keep more muck out of the community.

“All the drains are working, no flooding, no new mudslides,” said police Lt. Jason Kravetz. “We’ll go back to clean up.”

Also Wednesday, Acting Gov. Abel Maldonado sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for a major disaster declaration for the state. Maldonado said the damage wrought by 10 days of bruising storms were too much for state and local governments to handle.

The rain and heavy wind that swept through Northern California on Tuesday were blamed for the death of a woman camping with her 7-year-old granddaughter at a wildlife preserve in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.

A 100-foot oak tree came down on Gayle Falgoust’s tent at the Safari West Wildlife Preserve near Santa Rosa, authorities and preserve officials said. The girl was not hurt.

In the snow-laden Sierra Nevada, Placer County search teams combed the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe for Shawnte Marie Willis, who apparently became separated from friends while snowboarding Tuesday afternoon. Willis, 25, was last seen snowboarding through ski boundary signs near the top of an advanced slope, resort spokeswoman Rachel Woods told the Sacramento Bee.

Among road problems left by the storm, Highway 1 was closed at points along the coast due to flooding or rock slides.

The same storm system prompted a blizzard warning through Thursday night for mountainous areas of eastern Arizona, while rain drenched the lower desert Wednesday, causing dozens of drivers to slide off slippery highways.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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