By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES, Jan 26 (Reuters) - A string of avalanches in the mountains above Los Angeles have killed three people, including one who was found dead in the snow on Saturday, but another man walked out alive after taking shelter overnight.
The four people were caught in several of avalanches at a ski resort in the San Gabriel Mountains, northeast of Los Angeles, as a series of strong winter storms pummeled Southern California.
"As a result of the avalanches we have three dead and one survivor treated and released," Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Castro said.
Off-duty ski patrol member Michael McKay, 23, was killed on Friday when he was buried in snow near the Mountain High ski resort after skiing off trail.
Darren Coffey, also a member of a ski patrol, was caught in a separate avalanche while skiing. The 33-year-old was found and pulled from the snow by rescue teams after a frantic search but later declared dead at a local hospital.
The third victim, identified only as a man in his 60s, was found by searchers on Saturday morning "in the snow, dead."
Castro said the fourth man survived the snow slide and after taking refuge overnight was able to find his way to rescuers. He was reported to be in good condition after treatment at a local hospital.
Authorities in Southern California were also bracing for possible flash floods, mudslides and road closures after nearly a week of rain.
A new round of storms was predicted to hit the lower half of the state on Saturday night, forecast to bring 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 cm) of rain and dump more snow in the local mountains.
Some local mountains have received up to five feet (1.5 metres) of snow from this week’s storms.
With California entering the second year of a drought that has drained reservoirs and raised the specter of water shortages statewide, officials have been cautiously optimistic that the relatively wet winter would offer some relief. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)