Evacuations recommended as storm approaches burn areas

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Heavy winds blow snow as Ryan Foster, 25, scrapes snow from his auto in the parking lot where he lives at the Donner Summit Lodge in Norden on Thursday, March 1, 2018, near Donner Summit, Calif.

Southern California experienced a major winter storm on Thursday.

Santa Barbara County officials said that while the potential for debris flow is low to moderate, waterways may spill over into roadways. "The worst of the storm has passed over". Foothill and mountain areas could see as much as 3 inches of rain from the storm.

Some minor roadway flooding occurred, but the region's main highway, US 101, remained open throughout the storm.

Tens of thousands of people have been urged to evacuate their homes in the U.S. state of California as a powerful storm batters the state and authorities warned of the potential of mudslides. Twenty-one people were killed then and two remain missing.

Fire-scarred communities still digging out from under a mudslide are getting ready for another storm that promises to dump heavy rain overnight, forcing mandatory evacuations in Santa Barbara County. However, Thursday's system does meet the threshold for evacuations, Brown said.

"We have been told that it is very precarious and very risky", Sheriff Brown said, adding that the county is taking precautions to ensure that no one is in harm's way "...if we have another sizable debris flow".

A voluntary evacuation was also lifted in neighboring Ventura County, where debris blocked a rural highway.

"It's a winter wonderland out there this morning!" the San Diego area National Weather Service office tweeted.

The resort used explosives and other tools to knock down snow to prevent avalanches throughout the day but the snowfall was heavy, she said.

Wenyu Zhang, 42, vanished Thursday as the region was hit by a blizzard packing winds gusting to almost 150 miles per hour (241 kph) over the ridge tops. The cause of death was not immediately determined.

Highway 192 was flooded in the area of Bella Vista Drive and residents were asked to stay out of the area, the California Highway Patrol said around 6:40 a.m.

The Placer County Sheriff's Department tweeted Friday that it appears that all skiers and snowboarders had been accounted for after the avalanche and that no fatalities reported.

Authorities, however, warned that residents who defy evacuation orders, choosing to remain in hazard-prone areas, should not expect to be rescued in the event of a deadly disaster. Travel through the range was discouraged.