Saturated California gets more rain and snow, but so far escapes severe damage it saw only weeks ago

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LOS ANGELES — Much of saturated California faced the threat of flooding Tuesday with winter storms blowing through, but so far the state has escaped the severity of damage from mudslides, wind and rain spawned by an atmospheric river only weeks ago.

While the rainfall was focused on Southern California, thunderstorms and strong winds are expected across wide swaths of the state and intermittent mountain snow could hit in the north. Some flood watches and warnings were expected to remain in effect into Wednesday.

The heaviest rain is expected in the Los Angeles area Tuesday, picking up even more at night with an additional one to two inches on top of the two to five inches that have fallen in the area in recent days, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Maryland.

“It’s heavy but not quite as heavy as previously,” Oravec said. “But it’s been a wet month across southern California. The ground is saturated so any additional rain can bring the chance of flash flooding.”

The upside, he said, is there’s some light at the end of the tunnel: the region isn’t expected to see more rain at least until the following weekend.

In Huntington Beach, a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway was closed due to flooding. The area is prone to flooding during rains. An evacuation warning was issued in the Topanga Canyon area west of Los Angeles through Wednesday morning due to possible mudslides.

Santa Barbara Airport reopened at 5:30 a.m., a day after heavy rain on the Central Coast flooded the runways, according to a statement on its website. Airlines were notified and will be working to restore service, the statement said.

Ethan Ragsdale, a spokesperson for the Santa Barbara Police Department, implored residents to stay away from creeks and other normally tame water bodies.

“They’re absolutely dangerous,” he told The Associated Press. “There’s swiftly moving water and what we don’t want is to have somebody get injured or worse.”

The wet, wintry weather hit the state only weeks after a powerful atmospheric river parked itself over Southern California, turning roads into rivers, causing hundreds of landslides and killing at least nine people.

This week’s storm already has led to several rescues on swollen rivers and creeks on Monday. Crews helped three people out of the rising Salinas River in Paso Robles while a camper trapped in a tree was rescued along a creek in El Dorado Hills, northeast of Sacramento.

Federal authorities have also approved disaster assistance for residents of San Diego County.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Sunday that assistance from the disaster declaration will help with recovery efforts following severe storms that hit the Southern California region in late January, damaging more than 800 homes and leading to at least three deaths.

The aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs for individuals and business owners, the agency said.

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Marcelo reported from New York.

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