Strong storm hits Western states


A Pacific Northwest storm blew through Southern California early Friday without causing much damage or delivering the mudslides and severe flooding that many had feared.

But the mountains of Nevada and Colorado saw as much as 2 feet of snow, delighting ski resorts.

"We've had 30 inches in the last 24 (hours). It's money out there," said Trenton Naef, an employee at the Crested Butte ski area about 110 miles southwest of Denver.

For resorts around Lake Tahoe, which have had to rely on manmade snow to cover the slopes, the snow came just in time for the holiday season.

"This is what we really needed to get the season going," said Savannah Cowley, spokeswoman at Squaw Valley USA.

The weather and multiple accidents shut down both directions of Interstate 25 in northern Colorado Friday night.

In Southern California, the storm system moved through the region so quickly that there was little rain to bring the region's fire-scarred hillsides down in flows of mud and water, as authorities had feared.

Barely an inch of rain was reported in coastal and valley areas, with as much as 2 inches falling in the mountains, the National Weather Service said.

An evacuation order for about 1,000 homes in three Orange County canyons was canceled after the predicted deluge failed to happen. As it turned out, only residents of about 40 homes had followed the order, sheriff's officials said.

Most residents gambled that the hillsides, left blackened and denuded by the recent fires, would hold up. But some did sandbag their driveways and pack their belongings just in case.

"I was out shoveling sand with the neighbors until about 9 o'clock last night but, really, it seems to be OK this morning," resident Russell Taylor told KTLA-TV early Friday. "Just a drizzly day &

just like home in England."

Elsewhere, rain-slicked roads led to multiple traffic accidents. In Burbank, firefighters rescued two people whose car went off Interstate 5 shortly after 5 a.m. and overturned in 2 feet of water in the Los Angeles River.

In Washington state, crews reopened a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 5 to all traffic Friday, four days after it was swamped by floodwater after a previous storm system crashed through the region. Two lanes were open in each direction.


Associated Press writers Solvej Schou in Los Angeles and Curt Woodward in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this story.


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