TODAY   |  March 01, 2014

Pounding rain brings threat of mudslides, flooding to Calif.

Southern California has been suffering from drought, but the region was not prepared for the large, intense storm causing havoc across the region. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> this morning in california where that driving rain is leading to big fears of mud slides and floods. miguel almaguer has more from los angeles . miguel , good morning.

>> reporter: lester , good morning. this is the l.a. river . on thursday, it was dry, but today it is a surging torrent, like much of california and what feels like all of l.a. it's been inundated with water. overnight, another deluge of water. california 's strongest storm in three years showing no mercy.

>> until the low pressure passes, there's still potential for heavy showers to exist.

>> reporter: too much rain for the foothills outside los angeles . 1,000 homes evacuated. the danger rising with the water and mud.

>> we're evacuating. we're on our way out right now. we're packed up, getting in the car, driving off.

>> reporter: amanda highland and her father, ed, got out friday, just as mud swallowed their backyard and crept closer to their kitchen. so, it's not a question of if it's going to hit the house --

>> oh, it's coming, and right now, it's like a little bit of a glacier.

>> reporter: from space, the eye of this monster storm looked like a hurricane. on the ground, it may have felt like one, too. winds toppled trees and knocked out power. roofs caved in on homes and businesses. the highway so slick, this burning big rig nearly flew off a bridge. swiftwater rescue teams were busy across the state, no fatalities, but plenty of close calls.

>> the water was pretty high up. the water was flowing approximately 15 to 20 miles an hour, 5 feet, 10 feet deep.

>> reporter: when the rain does stop, the cleanup could take weeks. you've lived here for about 30 years. ever seen anything like this?

>> no, this is the first time.

>> reporter: that bad, huh?

>> yeah, it's that bad.

>> reporter: and it isn't over yet. this morning, lowlands are flooded and the foothills are still in jeopardy of mud slides. we're told the water levels here will surge over the next 24 hours , but the threat of mud lidz may last a week or two. that fragile soil will have to harden before it's safe to return to those homes. lester ?

>> miguel almaguer this morning, thank you.

>>> well, dylan , as we know, it's not just the rain that's still a threat for the west coast , but parts of the midwest and the northeast now bracing for more bad news, including up to a foot of snow over the weekend and into early next week. dylan , you're not going to be in the studio for long, my friend.

>> i am just already planning my next trip, yeah. monday we are looking at some pretty significant snowfall accumulation up and down the east coast , stretching back to the midwest , but we are focused today on the stormy west, especially down through southern california , where we could still deal with that mud slide danger. another several inches of rain is possible, obviously creating flooded roads and mountain snow as well. look at some of the rainfall totals we're still expecting. after nearly 3 inches of rain fell yesterday, we could see another 1 to 2 inches of rain along the coast. the foothills could end up with 4 inches of rain as this stream of moisture comes in off the pacific, heavy rain approaching san francisco . we've even had reports of thunderstorms and very intense wind gusts, too. this storm system will merge with this other one through the middle of the country, producing mostly ice and snow through the midwest . this storm still needs to be watched, because the track of this storm determines just how much snowfall the east coast sees, as opposed to mixing in with a little rain, so that's something we'll keep an eye on. your estimates right now, topeka, kansas, 10 inches of snow possible. chicago could end up with 6 inches, columbus, ohio, 9 inches. this is the area still in question. pittsburgh could get over a foot of snow, and then new york city , philadelphia, baltimore could be just under that foot mark with a little less in boston because the storm is basically moving right off the mid- atlantic coast . so, we'll have to watch it through the weekend and see just how much these snow totals change. lester ?

>> dylan , thanks very much.