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Mudslides in Orange County Burn Areas as Storm Hits Calif.

Torrential downpours triggered mudslides Thursday in fire-scarred Orange County canyons and hundreds of residents were ordered out as a wild weather system brought snow, hail, wind and rain to California. No mudslide injuries were reported.

Evacuation orders were issued to about 1,500 people in Williams, Modjeska and Trabuco canyons, areas devastated by a 28,000-acre wildfire last fall, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Mike Blawn.

A handful of residents at the top of Williams Canyon were temporarily stranded, fire officials said.

Aerial TV footage showed thick layers of mud surrounding homes as residents picked their way outside and began to clear properties with shovels. A road in Trabuco Canyon was impassable.

It was not immediately known how many people complied with the orders.

The National Weather Service issued numerous flash-flood warnings through the day as thunderstorms pushed across the state's southern counties from metropolitan Los Angeles south to central San Diego County and eastward through Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Lightning sparked many brush fires in northern and eastern San Diego County but they were quickly doused, said Nick Schuler, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
 
In Santa Barbara County, firefighters kept watch on the weather and the potential for lightning, county fire Capt. Eli Iskow said.

"Our fuels are already dried out, primed and ready to burn so even with a little moisture in the air they're still going to burn," he said.

Residents of the San Bernardino Mountains communities northeast of Los Angeles awakened to snow-dusted peaks, and hailstorms peppered parts of the region. Quarter-inch hail fell as a huge thunderstorm blew through Ramona in San Diego County, said local airport employee David Boone.

Unusually cold late-season weather wasn't limited to Southern California, which just last weekend baked in 100-degree highs.

In the Sierra, about 2.5 inches of snow fell overnight in the Mammoth Lakes area and as much as six inches of snow in upper elevations there, said Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

Lake Tahoe had as much as an inch of snow overnight above 7,000 feet. Squaw Valley reported an overnight temperature of 19 degrees, and the temperature remained at 25 degrees at 8,500 feet in the Lake Tahoe area at midday Thursday. Temperatures were in the upper 40s to low 50s at lake level, McGuire said.

"We really won't see a change in the pattern until next Tuesday or Wednesday," McGuire said. "We'll continue to have isolated showers through the entire holiday weekend. So kind of unsettled weather."
    
Southern California forecasts indicated rain and thunderstorms, and cooler-than-normal temperatures would continue into Memorial Day weekend.

In Central California, a National Weather Service surf advisory was in effect for wind-driven 10- to 14-foot waves, with some local sets to 18 feet along the coast of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Overnight winds that gusted to 70 mph in some areas diminished Thursday but canyons and valleys still experienced winds. The NWS reported a morning gust of 53 mph at Saugus in northern Los Angeles County.
 

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