SoCal Starts to Dry Out With Sunny Skies Expected Thursday

After getting close to a half-year's worth of rain in less than a week, Southern California was expected to start drying out overnight.
However, the final punch of a storm system that wreaked havoc across the region -- sending mud and rocks into some business areas and neighborhoods,
prompting evacuations and daring rescues, in canyons and on freeways and rural roads -- left standing water and debris that continued causing problems Wednesday night more than five hours after the rains stopped.
The wet weather itself was exiting eastward Wednesday night.
``It's winding down and should be gone by midnight,'' Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service said.
A flash flood warning for burn areas in the San Gabriel Mountains expired at 6 p.m., but the mountains could get more snow at elevations of about 6,500 feet or more, Seto said.
Mostly sunny skies are forecast for Thursday, he said. The region will get another shot at rain, however, late Saturday and Sunday. Seto said a quarter- to half-inch is likely to fall.
Orange County bore the brunt of the storm early today, with Laguna Beach being inundated with runoff between about 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Arms of the same storm system and individual cells kept on battering parts of Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside counties until about 5 p.m.

Fire officials have issued evacuation  orders for 200 additional homes on a bluff in the San Bernardino County city of Highland. Bill Peters of the California Department of Forestry and Fire  Protection says officials were very concerned about the stability  of the bluffs on the east side of a wash.  Earlier, about 20 homes were swamped with 3 feet of mud, dozens  of cars were buried and a bridge was badly damaged, when two creeks overflowed.
Flooding also closed the Corona airport in neighboring Riverside County, where some small planes had water up to their wings.

Riverside County Sheriff divers told NBCLA late Wednesday night they found a woman dead inside a vehicle they pulled from Canyon Lake.  The woman was not identified.
In Los Angeles County, the storm kept public safety agencies and motorists on edge all day, from the Antelope Valley to Long Beach and El Monte to the east San Gabriel Valley, with seemingly incessant weather warnings punctuated from time-to-time by heavy downpours.
Since late last week, most parts of Los Angeles have received 7 or more inches of rain. As of 5 p.m. today, the Civic Center had received 7.96 inches and some areas in the San Gabriel Mountains received up to 24 inches, according to National Weather Service figures released this evening.
The downtown Los Angeles average for a full year is 15 inches.
A few rainfall records fell today. Long Beach got 1.31 inches, beating the old record of  0.90 of an inch set in 1971. Lancaster got 0.94 inches, beating the old record of 0.45 inches set in 1982, according to the NWS. The rainfall record for December in downtown Los Angeles is 8.77 inches.
Wednesday's wet weather system contributed to a traffic fatality this morning, when a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and killed in Laguna Beach, where canyon waters four feet flowed into downtown and damaged streets, shops and stores in the central business district.
Some of the most violent weather elements forecast for the region -- thunderstorms, hail and waterspouts -- never materialized, but the storm still left some people with mud-damaged homes and it could go down as one of the wet test in about a decade.
No major mudslides occurred in the Station Fire burn area. The September-October 2009 fire was the most expansive on record in the county, denuding about 250 square miles of forest land.
In February, a boulder clogged the Mullally catch basin, and mud flows destroyed several homes and cars in La Canada Flintridge's Paradise Valley neighborhood.
Despite dozens of rescues around Southern California this morning, no deaths or serious injuries directly related to the storm were reported.
Residents of more than 200 homes in La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge were ordered to evacuate Tuesday night in advance of the latest storm, but most opted to stay put, and they appeared to have escaped any major problems.
The evacuation order was lifted at 6:30 p.m. Residents will still be required to show sheriff's deputies valid identifications.
``No Parking During Rain Storm'' restrictions will remain in effect on posted streets and vehicles will be subject to towing.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Antonovich declared a state of emergency for the county in anticipation of damages stemming from the storm.
The action activates an assessment team to evaluate potential damage to infrastructure and the possible need for financial support or other resources from the state and federal governments.
``We are working with our county departments, the town councils, city councils and residents in our unincorporated areas to ensure a coordinated response for impacted areas,'' Antonovich said.
About 4 inches of rain fell on Laguna Beach, where widespread damage was reported. Laguna Canyon Road was expected to remain closed overnight to accommodate clean-up crews. So much water fell that ponds at Laguna Koi Ponds overflowed, sending the gold-colored fish down the canyon with the rest of the debris.
Two evacuation centers were set up for people forced out of their homes. They are at Laguna Beach High School, 625 Park Ave.; El Modena High School in Orange, 3920 Spring St.
Dozens of roads across Orange and Los Angeles counties were closed on-and-off through the day. The extent of damage was still being tallied tonight.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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