Man killed by California avalanche


An avalanche struck a man in a mountain town and a rockslide brought a commuter train to a halt Friday as California strained under nearly a week of snow and rain.

A skier died Friday after being pulled from an avalanche in the snow-laden San Gabriel Mountains, authorities said.

The 23-year-old employee of the Mountain High ski area near the town of Wrightwood was rescued after the avalanche struck about noon. He was taken to a hospital, where he died about 4:30 p.m., said hospital spokeswoman Jana Retes.

The avalanche followed days of stormy weather throughout California.

The latest storm moved in Thursday night and dumped — inch to — inches of rain in the Los Angeles area alone.

Elsewhere, utility crews repaired electrical outages while highway crews worked to keep mountain routes open.

Nearly 11,000 homes and businesses throughout Southern California were without electricity, including about 6,700 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers.

A 40-mile stretch of Interstate 5 over Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles reopened after being closed for two days and stranding hundreds of drivers. Highway Patrol officers escorted cars over the summit.

"If it becomes snowy or icy, they'll close down the freeway at once," Officer Miguel Leuvano said.

A Metrolink train on a morning commute from Ventura County to Los Angeles through a narrow, rocky gorge hit a slide of mud and rocks on the tracks. The stranded train had to be pulled by another train to the next station and four other trains had to be halted, delaying 2,000 passengers for 21/2 hours, said Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell. No injuries were reported.

In the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles, mud washed down a naked hillside below a construction site and flowed into two homes.

"We have a flooded kitchen, flooded laundry room, driveway had a foot of water in it," a resident told KCAL-TV.

In some hillside areas, minor mudslides were reported with no injuries. Canyons scarred by wildfires last fall held despite a fifth day of rain but flash flood watches remained in effect.

Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service warned that slides were possible at any time because the ground was saturated.

"The thresholds for debris flow are exceeding the critical level," the weather specialist said. "Everything's already full of water."

Rain caused delays of up to two hours Friday morning at San Francisco International Airport, and officials expected the delays to continue.

"We're on a ground-delay program from 9 a.m. to midnight," said airport duty manager Linda Perry. "It is raining very hard, so we are seeing delays for the arrivals and subsequent departures."

Off the coast of Corona Del Mar, Orange County harbor patrol deputies rescued a cat from a moored 42-foot boat just before it went down in heavy seas, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

A new storm system was expected to arrive Saturday night and dump several more inches of rain through Sunday.


Associated Press Writer Rob Gloster in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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