Environment: Nightmare in Southern California

Torrential rains sweep in from Pacific, killing at least 24

To meteorologists, it was an unusual phenomenon: a "tropical connection." Storm after storm formed over the northern Pacific Ocean, picked up moisture from the tropics and rushed toward the West Coast on 150-m.p.h. jet streams. To Southern Californians, it was nothing less than a nightmare. Six times in nine days, storms struck, dumping nearly 13 in. of rain, killing at least 24 people and causing damage estimated at $425 million.

Worst hit were the chic canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains to the north and east of downtown Los Angeles. The hills are...

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