Storm Causes Big Surge in Traffic Accidents

San Pedro residents wonder if escalating landslide might also be due to rain

Heavy rains from a winter-like storm pummeled parts of Los Angeles Sunday, triggering flooding, accidents and was a possible factor in the escalating San Pedro mudslide.

The rain began to fall around 10 a.m. Sunday morning and continued through most of the day.

Shortly after the storm rolled in, the California Highway reported a surge in traffic crashes-- dozens of them blamed on wet pavement, including a truck that fell from interstate 5 onto a city street in Mission Hills, said CHP Officer Ed Jacobs.

On Laurel Canyon Boulevard, a truck went over a bridge, overturned, and hit a power pole, Jacobs said. The driver walked away with minor injuries.

"The driver was just driving too fast in rainy weather,'' said Jacobs.

In Los Angeles, freeway lanes were flooded along the 10 freeway and a pair of unrelated crashes caused delays of more than an hour on the northbound 5 freeway over the Grapevine, where lanes were blocked while a tow truck tried to extricate a wrecked truck cab from a ravine.

At LAX, more than a foot of water accumulated in the northbound Sepulveda Boulevard tunnel under the southern runways, according to firefighters at the scene. Two vehicles stalled, and firefighters called for heavy-duty tow trucks to drive into the half-mile-long tunnel and fish the cars out.

By 3 p.m., 1.42 inches of rain had fallen at Sepulveda Pass, and city firefighters found water flowing from the 405 freeway widening project into backyards. Large amounts of mud and water were flowing across all 10 lanes of the 405 in parts of the 10-mile-long construction zone, CHP officers said.

In Hollywood, clogged storm drains lead to street flooding at shops along Melrose Avenue west of La Brea Avenue.

In San Pedro, geologists were watching how the rain would affect a large landslide along Paseo del Mar, where a roughly 900-foot-long section of the coastal bluff is threatening to slide into the ocean near the White Point Nature Preserve.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service issued a small stream flood advisory Sunday evening for eastern Los Angeles County, including the cities of Sierra Madre, Monterey Park, Lancaster, and Diamond Bar.

With nearly 2 inches of rain since July 1, Los Angeles is slightly ahead of the norm for this time of year -- about 1.4 inches. The annual norm for downtown Los Angeles is about 15 inches.

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