Los Angeles (CNN) – The devastating rainstorms that spawned flash floods and mudslides in southern California drifted out of the state Thursday, leaving behind a massive clean-up job for area residents and government agencies.

As of 8 a.m. the National Weather Service was reporting cloudy skies and fog in southern California with a slight chance of morning showers. Forecasters predict clearing skies by Thursday afternoon and sunny weather Friday, with a possible return of light rain on Christmas Day.

However, the region remained under a flood warning Thursday with the Mojave River expected to crest at around flood stage by late morning.

Monsoon-like conditions overwhelmed the region on Wednesday, creating flash floods that kept workers at home and businesses and streets under mud and water.

As many as 40 homes in the San Bernardino County community of Highland were damaged by mud and water after two small rivers in the foothill town overflowed, said Bill Peters, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in six counties Wednesday as the rainstorms continued for a fifth day.

His declaration authorizes state assistance for local authorities in Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo and Tulare counties, all in southern California.

But forecasters said the heavy rain and snowfall were winding down as the last of a series of moisture-laden storms moved inland.

Flood watches and warnings remain in effect in western Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah until early Friday morning. Mudslides remain a threat because of the rain-soaked ground.

An additional one to two inches of rain, with more in some areas, were expected through Friday morning as the system moved toward the Rockies, the National Weather Service said.

Snow and rainfall totals from the storms were staggering.

By Wednesday evening, some mountain areas had received more than 13 feet of snow since Friday.

Crestline, California was the recipient of 26 inches of rain in the same time period. Santa Barbara notched 14 inches and Lake Arrowhead got 12 inches.

Jun Cruz, 41, a nurse who lives in Loma Linda, California, described a typical scenario for homeowners and businessowners in many communities: The morning newspaper was delivered at 7 a.m., Wednesday and moments later a flash flood carried mud and water to driveways and doorsteps.

Neighbors were left shoveling the muck from the front of their houses, but many of them couldn’t go to work because their cars were partly submerged in water, Cruz said.

“Thank God, the mud didn’t get through our home,” said Cruz, who’s also a CNN iReporter. “The hill beside us eroded with water, and it brought the water and the mud along with it.”

Snapshots of the deluge showed damage to roads and homes – along with youths making light of flooded streets. There were downed trees in Altadena, rescuers using canoes to reach stranded motorists in downtown Laguna Beach, and teenagers in wet suits sitting in lawn chairs asking motorists and a fire truck to splash them on a flooded Ocean Beach street.

And, in almost a surreal moment dreamed up by a screenwriter, the sun briefly broke through the dark clouds late Wednesday, and the Hollywood sign and surrounding hills had a spectacular double rainbow appear over them.

There was also an element of the macabre: Raging waters eroded part of a cemetery in Whittier, California, and the collapse of soil was close to some grave markers. The stark image was captured by a local television news helicopter, but it was unclear whether graves were washed away.

CNN iReporter Chris Morrow sent a photo of flooding outside San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. Crews were pumping water out of the stadium so that Thursday’s Poinsettia Bowl could be played.

There was some good news among the ruin. The Kern County Fire Department in Bakersfield reported flooding had stabilized Wednesday.

Kristiana Kocis, a Red Cross spokeswoman, reported that six people were in a shelter in a high school in San Luis Obispo and 15 more were in a shelter in Guadalupe.

The five-day rain total has topped 10 inches in many areas, with heavier amounts in some places. Twin Peaks in San Bernardino County has received more than 21 inches, with Twin Creek getting nearly 20.

Amtrak said on Wednesday it had suspended its Pacific Surfliner service between San Diego and San Juan Capistrano because of mudslides and flooding. “No alternate transportation is available,” the company said in a statement. Pacific Surfliners were operating between San Luis Obispo and San Juan Capistrano via Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, Amtrak said.

In Orange County, authorities were on the scene of a mudslide that affected homes in the Silverado Canyon area, the county’s Fire Authority said on Twitter. Rescues were needed, and evacuations were under way, according to the Fire Authority.

In Los Angeles County, meanwhile, authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 230 homes in two neighborhoods out of fear of debris flows. Of the 232 homes ordered evacuated in the La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta areas, however, only one family left, said Nicole Nishida, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Flash flood watches also were in effect for western Arizona through Wednesday night.
In Mohave County, Arizona, the Development Services Department Operations Center was monitoring flooding along the Beaver Dam Wash and Virgin River in the Littlefield area on Wednesday.

Mohave Emergency Management official Daryle Purcell reported at least six homes are confirmed destroyed in that area, with four or five threatened. Jail inmates are being put to work sandbagging, he said.

The county ordered an evacuation of the area, but not everyone was complying, officials said.

The series of storms originating in the Pacific are known as the “Pineapple Express” because of their origin near the Hawaiian Islands. They have brought heavy snow to the higher elevations, with torrential rainfall in lower spots and high winds.

High winds have also whipped much of the state this week, particularly at high elevations. Peak wind gusts reached 152 mph on the Alpine Meadows summit in northern California, the weather service reported.

The upside to the severe weather, according to experts, is the relief the heavy rainfall has brought to a region devastated by drought and fires.