Rain-Spurred Slides Strand Cars on PCH in Malibu

The first in a series of storms drenched Southern California and made driving on PCH tough as rocks and rain slid down hills.

A stretch of Pacific Coast Highway could be closed for at least another day due to mudslides that stranded motorists during the first significant rain of the season, officials said.

Heavy rain moved into western Los Angeles County Sunday, dumping about 1.4 inches of rain on the western end of Malibu and marooning about a dozen vehicles on Pacific Coast Highway west of Zuma Beach.

California Highway Patrol officers report that 10-15 vehicles were stranded at Sycamore Cove, west of Zuma Beach, by mudslides and rockslides blocking Route 1 both east and west of them.

Ventura County firefighters say at least two cars had punctured gas tanks as rocks fell -- or as vehicles drove over fallen rocks -- on PCH west of Malibu. The drivers walked out of the danger area unassisted, said Mike Lindbery, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

Two to three feet of mud and debris was reported on Pacific Coast Highway at Mugu Rock, and east to Deer Creek Road. This is where cliffs above the road were denuded by the Springs Fire.

California State Parks rangers reported that sharp rocks had wrecked wheels on vehicles traversing between Ventura County and Malibu on PCH.

Heavy rain was limited to the west end of the county, but the LA basin was wetted in places by hit and miss storms.

Winnetka, at the west end of the San Fernando Valley, got .28 inches. Unofficial totals included just .06 in Santa Monica, and downtown LA was nearly dry.

The biggest rain clouds of this week, however, were still swirling across the Pacific and threatening to storm ashore Tuesday.

The National Weather Service refined its forecast. The center of the storm might hit the Central California coast, instead of Los Angeles, but 6-8 hours of intense rain was still expected by the federal government, to fall during the day on Tuesday.

As the low pressure system crosses L.A. and heads toward Las Vegas, its tailing quarter will use winds out of the southwest to pump in a large amount of subtropical atmospheric moisture, the NWS said.

This flow "will entrain a large plume of subtropical moisture and aim it right at Southern California," the NWS said.

Rain amounts on Tuesday were still expected to range from 1-2 inches at the coast and in the valleys to 2-5 inches in the foothills and mountains near Los Angeles.

Inland areas will get substantially less rain, the NWS said.

Glendora residents loaded up with sandbags at the city yard to prepare for possible mudslides.

Edward Heinlein has boarded up windows and placed sandbags around his home on Ridgeview.

His home butts up against the mountain, scorched earlier this year during the Colby Fire.

His Azusa home was red tagged after flash floods swept through the foothills last March.

Since then, Heilein spent more than $20,000 to rebuild and reinforce a steel fence to protect his home.

He hopes it's strong enough to take on lots of rain, but he's concerned the entire area could be wiped out.

"We're gonna get hit," he said. "Stuff's gonna come through the house like last time. This is gonna be drainage area right through my property.

"This time we have more time to prepare so it shouldn't be as bad."

City News Service contributed to this story.

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