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TODAY   |  February 28, 2014

Evacuations ordered as rains hammer California

Evacuations and road closures have been ordered in California as a powerful storm brings threats of mudslides and flash flooding. As the system makes its way across country, the Midwest and East Coast could get a foot or more of snow. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>> hope that all those stars in hollywood are waterproof. take a look at the theater right now where the oscars will be. it's all wrapped up in plastic.

>> and if you're in charge of the oscars , you're thinking, we've had no rain in the state of california , and sure enough on the big night , is it going to rain?

>> yeah. will it get out of here in time for the oscars ? there's a good chance it may not.

>> by the way, the rough weather out west is the top story. the rain is needed in california , but not exactly like this, right, al?

>> right. there hasn't been a 1-inch rainfall for a day in southern california in more than two years. now they're going to get more than a year's worth of rain in the next 24 hours . hazardous driving conditions, airport delays, a lot of winds. we are talking about the possibility of water spouts and tornadoes with this system. and look at the rainfall amounts we're talking about. generally anywhere from 2 to 3 inches, but in the foothills and the mountains, 4 to 8 inches of rain locally, some areas could pick up 10 inches of rain. glendo glendora, california , has hard closure areas where the fires took place last year. miguel almaguer is there, and those areas under mandatory evacuations, miguel.

>> reporter: yeah, al, good morning, that's why the police are here today. they are asking all the residents in this neighborhood to essentially be out of this area. about 1,000 homes in this neighborhood have been evacuated by police overnight. and they will continue to stay in this area to make sure neighbors do not return. the problem is just behind that last home behind me, about 100 yards up the hill, there is a massive mountainside up there. as you mentioned, torched by the colby fire back in january. the soil at the top of that mountain is very loose. it is -- it can easily funnel down into the neighborhoods. so the big concern as it remains dark and wait for the sunrise here, the mud slides. the rain began hammering about four hours ago. we have seen steady rain since. yesterday, we were dealing with a storm. we had a small break between that. so neighbors were able to have some time to get sandbags, shore up their homes, get prepared for this next, heavy punch. we expect to see steady rain all day today. we expect to see thunderstorms as well as powerful winds later on this afternoon. al, as we mentioned, we desperately need the rain here in california . but not this much, not so quickly. let me show you an example of how thirsty our reservoirs are. a picture of a major reservoir taken about two years ago shows where the water levels should be. now, the picture from it taken a few months ago shows a completely different story. we need up to 15 inches of steady rain to get back to normal. as you mentioned, we're going to get doused in this storm. but, al, all of this water is coming too quickly for many of the neighborhoods, especially this one in azuza. we'll continue to see the evacuation orders throughout the day for any neighbor try to return, al.

>> the other side of this system, the weather channel , we're calling it titan. look at this cold air. buffalo, air temperature of 2 below, and this is the big problem. 21 degrees below zero in minneapolis with windchills, st. louis, it's 20. this cold air is entrenched. and as this system makes its way across the country, it is going to be causing major problems. as we get into saturday, denver, you're going to be looking at snow and ice and some major accumulations out of this system. then as it continues to the east by sunday, it's in the midwest. we are looking indianapolis. you're going to be looking at heavy snow accumulations coming up. in fact, you're going to see upwards of a foot or more of snow. winter storm watches are in effect. and then sunday night into monday, this system makes its way to the east. and so now the i-95 corridor is under the gun from washington, d.c., new york , on into boston, new york , we're going to be looking at, again, significant snow, cold weather continuing. here's what we're looking for as far as accumulations. saturday into monday, this is the european model. we're looking at generally about 9 to 12 inches . the american model gives a lot more precipitation, look at some of these snowfall totals. we're talking up to 2 feet of snow, western p.a., new york up to a foot and a half of snow before this thing is over. and, guys, it stretches all the way to boston. so, again, we're going to have to continue to watch this. but this could be a significant, significant snowstorm for a good portion. over 100 million people will be affected by this.

>> isn't tomorrow the first official day of spring?

>> not quite. no, the calendar, the winter season.

>> but the groundhog, we have to find him, we have