Yet more rain fell early Wednesday, bringing the weekly total to more than 9 inches, as the state struggled to recover from weather that has left nine people dead, including a man who was killed when a eucalyptus tree fell on his pickup truck Monday in San Diego County.
"We're going to see some shower activity continuing during the morning hours along the Southern California coastline, but as the day wears on, we may actually see skies brighten, and it could turn sunny later in the afternoon," said CBS News Meteorologist George Cullen.
But Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn says even if the weather improves, residents will still have to be careful.
"Even when the rain stops, this saturated ground and all the hillsides could continue to move for many days thereafter. So we won't be out of the woods even when the rain stops," Hahn said.
Nature's fury was unleashed by a huge storm that's parked itself overhead since last Thursday, continually shooting out damaging stormlets, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.
Mark Lacanilao got little more than an hour to pack up his belongings and vacate his Highland Park home.
"We're bringing pictures, home movies, important papers, some clothes," he said.
His home, on a hillside north of downtown Los Angeles, is cracked right down the middle of its foundation.
"The soil that's underneath is eroding away, it has nothing to sit on," Lacanilao said.
In Ventura County, officials closed the small Santa Paula airport Tuesday after more than 155 feet of runway collapsed into the rushing Santa Clara River. Chunks of concrete crumbled into the water throughout the day.
"We've lost nearly the entire west third of the airport," said Rowena Mason, president of the Santa Paula Airport Association. "This is millions and millions of dollars worth of damage."
Authorities said dozens of homes were evacuated or red-tagged — marked as uninhabitable — because they threatened to collapse from sliding hillsides.
For downtown Los Angeles, the total rainfall from the storms that have battered the state since last week reached 9.14 inches Wednesday morning.
That brings the amount since July 1, when California begins its yearly rainfall measurements, to 34.36 inches. The record for the entire year, 38.18 inches, was set in 1883-1884. The yearly average is about 15 inches.
Storms have caused $52.5 million in damage to Los Angeles County roads and facilities since the beginning of the year. The county has spent $9 million on repairs, including $500,000 since the weekend, officials said.
There were rescues across the state, including a woman who was pulled Tuesday from rushing, waist-high waters of the Rio Hondo River in Montebello. Mudslides forced Amtrak officials to suspend train service north of Los Angeles to Santa Barbara at least through Thursday.
Earlier in the week, mud and boulders crashed into an apartment bedroom, crushing a 16-year-old girl as she did her homework. A 61-year-old man was killed in a separate landslide.
On Sunday, a Nevada woman died after getting caught in an avalanche while cross-country skiing near Lake Tahoe.
Hahn has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to urge President Bush to issue a federal disaster declaration for the city, which could open the way for federal assistance. The mayor said damage exceeded $10 million and at least 96 homes are uninhabitable. Los Angeles County has suffered another $52 million in damage to its roads and facilities.
Northern California also was hit by severe thunderstorms and hail. Trees were uprooted and roofs and fences damaged by two small tornadoes near Sacramento.