Several western states have been pounded by heavy rain for the last six days and forecasters have warned that the most intense in a series of storms is on the way.
Southern California residents have been warned to evacuate as concern grows about potential mudslides in the storm-plagued region. After days of relentless rain, the most intense system is still coming.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., has declared a state of emergency in several counties. The threat of mudslides forced the evacuations of more than 200 homes in the Los Angeles foothills.
"We expect a major storm," La Canada-Flintridge Mayor Don Voss. "Wednesday morning into Wednesday noon. The likes of which, I've heard, we haven't seen for 10 years."
Rescue crews have been busy rescuing people and animals trapped by flood waters. Near Riverside, 36 horses were saved from four feet of rising water.
Downtown Los Angeles received more than one-third of its annual average rainfall in less than a week. Storm drains have overflowed into homes.
The storm is expected to wreak havoc across the country. Flood warnings were issued for parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.
At least 10 inches of rain have drenched the northern part of the state of Arizona and swept away four brand new homes. Authorities said about 12 other new homes were still in danger of being destroyed.
"As we look towards the rest of the nation, this could be bringing some wintry weather across the plains as we look into Thursday," said Accuweather meteorologist Ava Dingea.
"And the big travel day on Friday could have some icy weather even south of Chicago," she added.
Despite all the rain, there is a silver lining -- the water is expected to help ease the effects of years of drought in the region.
Meanwhile, forecasters said a developing winter storm is almost guaranteeing that half of the country will see a white Christmas this year.