Worst California Storm in Years Takes Aim at Los Angeles, San Diego

The worst storm to hit California in years was due to leave Los Angeles and San Diego wind-whipped and drenched on Friday.

A weather system known as the "Pineapple Express" hammered the north and center of the state with hurricane force winds and up to 10 inches of rain on Thursday. The storm triggered flight cancellations and left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark. At least two deaths were also reported in Oregon.

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There were multiple accidents on flooded roads, and several trees crunched cars. Interstate 5, California's critical north-south thruway, was closed by flooding in the northern town of Weed. In Marin County, heavy rains washed out a portion of state Route 1.

Precautionary evacuations brought on by fear of mudslides began at 10 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora, where the foothills were stripped bare by a major wildfire earlier this year.

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The Pacific Gas and Electric Company said it had restored power to more than 250,000 customers — but around 14,000 were still waiting late Thursday.

While Friday's weather was not forecast to be quite so severe, the storm was expected to arrive in Los Angeles just in time for the morning commute.

"It is going to be a rather messy morning for people trying to get to work," said Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist atThe Weather Channel. "People will have to deal with the high winds and there could be pooling on the roadways and even some localized flooding." Palmer said California — 80 percent of which is under extreme drought — had not experienced a storm of this magnitude in six years.

Los Angeles could expect to see one-to-two inches of rain and wind gusts of more than 30 mph throughout the morning, according to Palmer. The storm would continue to shift south and hit San Diego before noon and then swing east and inland on Friday night.

More mountainous areas could get as much as six inches of rain and some snow.

The weather is a result of the "Pineapple Express" — an atmospheric river of sorts that streams moisture from the Pacific tropics toward the West Coast. Wind gusts of up to 147 mph were reported Thursday.

"It's like a fully loaded Super Soaker that just unloads onto parts of California for a couple days straight," said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

In Oregon, the winds proved deadly. A falling tree killed a homeless man who was sleeping on a trail, and a teenage boy died after a large tree fell on the vehicle in which he was riding, causing it to swerve and hit another tree.

In Western Washington, strong winds knocked out power to more than 150,000 customers Thursday. A tree fell onto a casino's 18,000-gallon propane tank and started a large fire roughly 30 feet from the building in Olympia, Washington.

The Associated Press and NBC News' F. Brinley Bruton, M. Alex Johnson and Erin McClam contributed to this report.