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California faces winds, cold blast after storm

California faces winds, cold blast after storm

December 30th, 2010 in News

A Caltrans dozer operator scrapes mud Wednesday off the right three lanes of the eastbound 91 Freeway near Green River Road near Corona, Calif. A mudslide blocked parts of the freeway for up to six hours, authorities said.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California braced Wednesday for a blast of cold air and potentially damaging winds in the aftermath of a winter storm that dumped more rain and snow on the soggy state but failed to trigger significant new mudflows.

One person was killed by a falling tree and a snowboarder was missing, power outages were scattered around the state and some roads and highways were closed, but the region escaped widespread problems in the two-day round of foul weather.

Forecasters, however, warned that the eastward movement of the low pressure system that brought the storm would allow even colder air to move in, along with high winds that could down power lines and topple trees rooted in saturated soil.

An expected drop of snow levels to low elevations also posed a threat to highway travel over mountain passes.

Meanwhile, communities east and south of Los Angeles that were hit hard by runoff in a dayslong series of storms last week were able to focus on cleaning up without additional new damage.

Rain was lighter than expected in Highland in San Bernardino County, where 50 homes remain evacuated after being swamped by a pre-Christmas mudflow and more than 100,000 sandbags had been used to build walls to keep more muck out of the community.

"We haven't had any hard downpours," said Jodi Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The outcome was also positive in Laguna Beach, the scenic Orange County enclave that sustained $10 million in damage when storm runoff inundated part of its downtown last week.

"All the drains are working, no flooding, no new mudslides," said police Lt. Jason Kravetz. "We'll go back to clean up."

The rain and heavy wind that swept through Northern California on Tuesday were blamed for the death of a woman camping with her 7-year-old granddaughter at a wildlife preserve in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.

A 100-foot oak tree came down on Gayle Falgoust's tent at the Safari West Wildlife Preserve near Santa Rosa round 9 p.m. Tuesday, authorities and preserve officials said.

"It was so stormy and windy. It was just a very cruel winter day," said Aphrodite Caserta, spokeswoman for Safari West.

The granddaughter, who was also in the tent at the time, was not hurt.

The girl's father and his son were in a neighboring tent when they heard the tree come down and screams, sheriff's Capt. Matt McCaffrey told KGO-TV. They used scissors to cut through the canvas and pull the 7-year-old out.