California braced Sunday for the worst of a potentially dangerous storm that threatened to hammer parts of the state with hurricane-force winds and cause flooding and mudslides as it moves down the coast over the next few days.
"This storm is predicted to be one of the largest and most significant in our county's history and our goal is to get through it without any fatalities or any serious injuries," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters Saturday.
Evacuation warnings and orders were in effect for Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Ventura and Monterey counties. Classes were canceled Monday for schools across Santa Barbara County.
The storm, called a "Pineapple Express" because the atmospheric river's plume of moisture stretches back across the Pacific to near Hawaii, arrived in Northern California on Saturday when most of the state was under some sort of wind, surf or flood watch.
By early Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a rare "hurricane force wind warning" for the Central Coast, with wind gusts up to 92 mph (148 kph) from the Monterey Peninsula to the northern section of San Luis Obispo County.
The rain caused a several-hour delay during Sunday's final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Monterey County.
The storm was expected to move down the coast and hit the Los Angeles area with downpours, flash floods and high-elevation mountain snow on Sunday and to hammer Orange County and San Diego on Monday. Heavy to moderate rain was expected to stay in Southern California until Tuesday.
The National Weather Service forecast up to 6 inches of rainfall across Southern California's coastal and valley areas, with up to 12 inches likely in the foothills and mountains. Forecasters predicted mudslides, debris flows and flooding to occur.
It is the second time in days that California has been hit by an atmospheric river, a long band of moisture that forms over the Pacific. The first arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday, delivering downpours and heavy snowfall that brought cable car service to a halt before moving down the coast.
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