Heavy Rains Trigger Floods, Other Damage as California Begins Rationing Water With PM-Water Bank, Bjt

Undated (AP) _ Strict water rationing was clamped on millions of Californians on the same day a fierce winter storm drenched the state from San Francisco to Los Angeles, dropping 2 to 4 inches of rain, tearing up coastline and snarling highways.

While it was raining hard in Northern California's Marin County and Southern California's Los Angeles County on Friday, residents in both locations were ordered to drastically cut water use.

''It's tough with all this rain we've been having to remember that you have to conserve,'' said Janet Cross of Los Angeles.

The storm whipped up waves that caused $1 million damage to a beachfront home in Malibu. It was also blamed for a 20-car pileup in Southern California's Orange County, flood damage throughout the region and damage to miles of Southern California coastline. No serious injuries were reported.

In the midst of it, there was mandatory water rationing to help cope with five years of drought. Los Angeles' more than 3 million residents were ordered to cut back water consumption by 10 percent or face heavy fines.

In Marin County, just north of San Francisco, residents were limited to 50 gallons per day.

Just a pair of five-minute showers could use up the 50-gallon limit, said Doug Priest, director of the state Drought Center. He estimated the average four-person household uses 540 gallons daily.

The storm, which had dropped 2 inches of rain in the San Francisco Bay area and 4 inches in Los Angeles by Friday, began to subside in many areas early today. However, forecasters said a new storm front was expected to sweep across California in the days ahead and bring more heavy rain.

Officials said it was no reason to call off rationing.

''It's barely making a dent,'' Priest said.

''We'll get some good runoff into local reservoirs in the Bay area from this rain,'' said Mike Pechner of the private Golden West Meteorology service. ''But the rainfall and snow in the Sierra is not even a drop in the bucket.''

Sierra Nevada snowpack provides 70 percent of Los Angeles' water. A January survey by the city's Department of Water & Power showed the mountain range's snowpack is only 13 percent of normal this winter.