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Fearing flooding and mudslides, thousands evacuated in California as record rain falls

iStock/Thinkstock(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- Record rains fell Monday in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, as the storm heads south Tuesday, threatening areas already ravaged by wildfires.

As the storm moves into the Los Angeles area Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service is warning that flash flooding, debris flow and mudslides are possible in the recent burn areas of the Thomas and La Tuna fires.

A cold front and a squall line with lightning is developing and moving into the Los Angeles area on Tuesday morning.

Later Tuesday afternoon, the worst of the storm will move inland. The heavy rain will end in Los Angeles around dinner time or even before.

Rainfall totals Tuesday morning and early afternoon will be at least 2 to 4 inches in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. Rainfall rates could be 1 to 2 inches per hour.

Snow will be measured in feet, as an additional 1 to 2 feet of snow is expected in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Moving into the Plains

The storm system moves into the Great Plains on Wednesday and Thursday with winter storm watches and warnings already issued from Colorado to Wisconsin.

Locally, 6 to 12 inches are possible and this could be the biggest snowstorm of the season for places like the Twin Cities.

South of the storm, mild air will bring a chance for thunderstorm with lightning from Memphis, Tennessee, to St. Louis.

January thaw in the East

It's about 20 to 30 degrees warmer from Chicago to New York City than it was this past weekend as temperatures rise into the 40s and 50s.

By Thursday, Chicago and Cleveland will be approaching 50 degrees for the first time since the middle of December.

New York City and Boston will be in the 50s by Friday for the first time since mid-January. These temperatures will be 15 to 20 degrees above normal.

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