Wrecks, Floods, Mudslides: Rain Pounds California

Rain pelted the Bay Area for the fifth consecutive day on Tuesday, leading to a flurry of car wrecks, flooding and mudslide watches amid an otherwise welcome break from California's severe drought.

The second blast of rain came late Tuesday, which included lightning reported in the North Bay.

Flashing lights and sirens were common on the highways, with crashes reported before the sun came up on Interstate Highway 880 in Hayward and Highway 17 near Santa Cruz.. The California Highway Patrol responded to various reports of flooded roadways, including on Interstate Highway 580 in Livermore, U.S. Highway 101 near San Francisco International Airport, on the northbound state Highway 87 to Interstate Highway 280 connector in San Jose and on state Highway 4 around the border of Antioch and Oakley.

Earlier in the day, an oak tree fell on Woodside Road at 5 a.m. taking down several power lines with it, according to the Office of Emergency Services in Redwood City. However, the power outage only affected about five homes. At 6:45 a.m., San Francisco International Airport reported the rain was delaying flights by almost four hours. CHP tweeted that it had more than 400 calls for collisions during the morning commute including a mudslide in Redwood City and flooding from Oakland to Marin. A flood advisory was issued for the entire Bay Area.

"It is tough out there," said NBC Bay Area Meteorologist Christina Loren, who added that the rainful, while a headache to drive in, is a much needed antitode to the statewide drought.

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Loren said the rain should continue throughout the day with thunderstorms expected later in the afternoon - with a slight respite at lunchtime. The National Weather Service predicted the coastal mountains could received about 4 inches of rain on Tuesday, and Santa Cruz could receive up to five inches.

Loren said the last time San Francisco received an inch and a half of rain was in 2012. And if the city surpasses that amount by the end of Tuesday, that will be the most precipitation since 2009.

The rain won't be enough to cure the historic drought in California, where some lakes are at less than half their normal levels for this time of year. But Loren did say that the rainfall so far this year is slightly above average - something that hasn't happened in three years.

In Los Angeles County, voluntary evacuations in the Silverado Canyon burn area were planned as residents there watched for potential flash flooding. In Ventura, crews braced for possibly more rock slides. In San Diego, residents were also preparing for  storm to wallop the city and surrounding areas.

Rain is expected through Wednesday.

NBC Bay Area's Shawn Murphy and Mike Inouye contributed to this report.

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