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Calif. braces for more heavy weather

Image: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times. Some of rescue crew hike in heavy snow at Mountain Hi East ski area to try to find a missing victim.

Swaths of California braced for another bout of heavy weather as the latest in a series of storms swirled toward the state.

Wintry conditions over the past week have already claimed at least two lives, when two skiers died in separate avalanches. Authorities were on full alert for mudslides and flash floods in areas denuded by last year's wildfires.

The skiers were killed and two others were missing after three avalanches swept backcountry slopes in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles on Friday, authorities said.

Rescuers pulled Darren Coffee from a second avalanche late Friday. He was declared dead at a nearby hospital a few hours later, Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy Cory Kennedy said. The cause of death was not immediately known, nor were Coffee's age and hometown.

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Thompson said up to 8 inches of rain would fall in the hills outside Los Angeles starting tonight and area ski resorts could be pounded by as much as 3 feet of powder.
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