California thunderstorms lead to mudslides

A spectacular series of thunderstorms rolled through Southern California, bringing walnut-sized hail and bursts of heavy rain that triggered mudslides and shut down the main highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Parts of the region remained under a severe weather watch early Tuesday.

One highway was closed for about 5 hours Monday about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Los Angeles because of mudslides and up to four feet (1.2 meters) of standing water on the road, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Johnny Fisher.

At least one death was blamed on the storms. A gasoline tanker crashed and caught fire on Interstate 5 north of downtown Los Angeles, killing the driver, police said.

Approximately 140,000 customers in Southern California lost power, utilities said.

The fall storms began sending light showers into the region late Saturday and again on Sunday, then unleashed a barrage of cannon-shot thunderclaps and deluges early Monday. They were sparked by an upper-level, low-pressure system southwest of Los Angeles due to depart Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. A.M.

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