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Soggy California braces for deluge, as more storms take aim

More storms are steering toward California, which is already deluged. Warnings of flash floods and mudslides are in place in some communities, as worries rise about additional flooding.

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NWS predictions are for another five inches of rain in coastal plains and valleys by the end of Wednesday, with as many as 10 inches in the mountains, according to meteorologist Jamie Meyer.

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Warnings of flash floods and mudslides are in place for several communities, and traffic has been barricaded from traveling parts of the Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Ventura because of boulder landslides that have blocked lanes of traffic.

There are spot reports of power outages, trees falling on cars and houses, cars stalling in water, and families trapped temporarily in their homes because of rushing water. Geologists for the state transportation agency, Caltrans, are checking cliffs from Malibu inland to San Bernardino to assess closing and opening of roads. There have been relatively few reports of road closures and mudslides, but agencies predict more of the same weather for several days ahead.

“I think you guys are going to see lots of flooding problems,” said Accuweather.com meteorologist Mike Pigott, in an Associated Press report. Though the rain tapers off intermittently – the latest storm is expected to end Monday night – three more storms are lined up to come ashore between then and Wednesday night.

Trying to escape drizzle, traffic jams, and ubiquitous TV reporters, many residents are heading much further than their local cafe.

At the Starbucks, school teacher Winnie Stoudemire cracks off a crisp biscotti in her mouth and asks, “Who wants to sit in a corner in flat L.A. and watch it pour all day?” She's heading out. “We’re taking the kids skiing starting tomorrow. Ten feet of powder. Yippeeee! How many times in a lifetime can you say that?”

State agriculture officials say a silver lining to the storms is the end of 4-1/2 years of drought conditions. The prospect of steady flows of water for the Central Valley – which produces half of America’s fruits and vegetables – comes from the melting of the Sierra Nevada snow pack over time, which feeds the aqueducts and groundwater that Central Valley farmers rely on.

IN PICTURES: Global weather 2010

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