Storm to dump heavy rain and snow on US West

A powerful Pacific storm has left two people dead in California as winds of more than 70mph downed power lines and trees and some areas of the state received up to 10 inches of rain.

A helicopter rescued one person from the roof of a auto but another motorist was found dead in a submerged vehicle, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes, more than 300 flights into LA have been disrupted, and a number of potentially deadly sinkholes have open up along the roads, swallowing cars.

Firefighters rescued one person from the first auto, while the driver of the second managed to get out before it fell in.

Officials said at least two people had died in the storm.

A series of rain storms will hit Southern California, beginning Thursday night. The heavy rains will also cause flash flooding, mudslides and debris flows.

Total rainfall predictions were as high as almost 10 inches (25 centimeters) in some areas, with rain failing at a rate of more than an inch (up to 3 centimeters) per hour.

A forest fire charred an area above their homes a year ago, prompting concerns that heavy rain could trigger mudslides where there is no vegetation.

Authorities in San Bernardino County say a motorist has been found dead after a auto was submerged on a flooded desert road in Victorville.

Damaging wind gusts may accompany the storm, particularly in the mountains, which are likely to down trees and power lines.

Wind speed and rain shower activity picking-up as Pacific Storm slams into Southern California.

As the rain grew in intensity, trees were felled by the combination of high winds and saturated ground.

A flash flood watch will be in effect from 7 a.m. through Saturday morning everywhere in Los Angeles County.

The storm system was moving "very slowly" eastward and Los Angeles County was expected to see more rain through Saturday, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

"The storm looks to be the strongest storm to hit southwest California this season", the National Weather Service said. "So much rain, I get busy", he said. Between Sunday and Tuesday morning, a new blast of torrential rain raises the specter of a serious flooding event in the region.

Meanwhile, over 200 residents in the city of Duarte, located around 32 km (20 miles) east Los Angeles on the foothills of the San Gabirel Mountains, were ordered to evacuate their homes late on Friday out of fear of mudslides. As of noontime today, statewide rainfall amounts during a 12-hour period starting at midnight include Santa Rosa.56 inches, San Francisco with.67 inches, San Luis Obispo 1.38 inches and Santa Barbara with 2.76 inches.

High surf is expected along the coast through Sunday as a result of a large storm-generated westerly swell, with the biggest surf expected Saturday.

"There is more than enough room in the lake to continue accommodating incoming water and the lake level will continue to be lowered", the state Department of Water Resources said Friday.