Two skiers were killed and two were missing as rare avalanches struck mountains near Los Angeles after a severe winter storm pounded the region, authorities said Saturday.

The two fatalities were reported in separate avalanches at the Mountain High Ski Area in the San Gabriel Mountains, around 31 miles (50 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, police and ambulance officials said.

A 23-year-old off-duty ski patrolman was swept away on Friday afternoon while a second avalanche buried a 33-year-old veteran skier shortly afterwards. He later died in hospital.

Rescuers were continuing to search an avalanche-prone area of the resort on Saturday for two people who were reported missing on Friday.

Skiers and snowboarders have flocked to mountains in southern California this week following two days of record snowfalls that have blanketed slopes which usually need to be bolstered by man-made snow.

Weather officials have said around five feet of snow fell in a 48-hour period at the Mountain High resort this week.

More snow and rain was forecast for the region later Saturday.