December Storms: Road Closures, Mudslides, More Rain

Mudslides and rock debris force the closure of several highways

Orange County was hammered by another round of rain Wednesday as the region prepares for more storms.

Witnesses reported that so much water poured out of Laguna Canyon into  downtown Laguna Beach just before dawn that swiftwater rescue units were being  deployed there. One man was rescued as mud flowed through his house, according  to Laguna Beach fire officials.

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A man who raises Koi on a fish farm in Laguna  Canyon lost about 300 fish when his ponds overflowed. Some of the fish, which look like big goldfish, were swept down the  canyon. Others were struggling to live in big puddles.

Laguna Koi Ponds at 20452 Laguna Canyon Road has been in business for  21 years, raising fish that can sell for up to $200 each.

Full Story: Laguna Beach Digs Out

Highland Neighborhood Covered in Mud

In Highland, a neighborhood was blanketed in mud Wednesday afternoon. The mud flowed into homes, engulfed cars, covered streets and caused a bridge to buckle.

One woman said her family could not leave the house because the mud blocked a gate.

Silverado Canyon Evacuations

Rescuers also were heading to Silverado Canyon, in the Santa Ana  Mountains, where mud and boulders were threatening people in their houses.

Authorities said residents of hillside cabins in Silverado Canyon in Orange County are being walked to a local church. The narrow canyon on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest burned in a 2007 wildfire and remains at risk of mudslides.

Check out video from the area.

And, this video was shot at the Lazy W Ranch United Methodist Camp near Ortega Highway.

Another viewer posted video of flooding in Loma Linda.

Watching, Waiting in Burn Areas

In the San Gabriel Mountains, rainfall totals in the Station Burn area  averaged in the area of 1 inch, according to rain gauges uphill from landslide- prone neighborhoods in the Crescenta Valley. Just before sunrise, hillsides  appeared to be stable and water was running clear down gutters along Ocean View  Boulevard and other streets.

Nearly every family in hillside and canyon areas of La Canada- Flintridge and La Crescenta had ignored so-called mandatory evacuation orders  and decided to stay put overnight.

Evacuation orders were issued at 3 p.m. Tuesday for 147 homes in La Canada  Flintridge and 85 homes in La Crescenta, according to the sheriff's department.  An evacuation center opened at 6 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Church, 2411 Montrose  Ave. in Montrose.

Six Rescued in Lancaster

Six people had to be rescued Wednesday from vehicles that  became trapped in a flooded Lancaster intersection, a county fire dispatch supervisor said.

"The three vehicles became trapped by the storm water at the  intersection of Avenue H and 60th Street East," said county fire Dispatch  Supervisor Ed Pickett. "The 911 calls started coming into the dispatch center  at 1:09 p.m."

Firefighters reached the scene at 1:23 p.m., he said. Everyone was  removed from the trapped vehicles in less than an hour. Initial reports indicated there were three people in one vehicle, an  adult and child in a minivan and one person in a Mercedes-Benz.

More Problems for Freeway Interchange

Near Pomona, the overnight rain was enough to reactivate a landslide at  a hillside above the interchange between the San Bernardino (10) and Orange  (57) freeways. For the second time this year, it buried transition roads from  the westbound 10 to both directions of the 57 freeway.

The same hillside failed during rains in February, snarling traffic in  the "Kellogg Interchange" next to Cal Poly Pomona.

Weather Forecast

Overnight rainfall was much less than forecasters had predicted, but the  bulk of the moisture and instability was still off the Central California  coast and headed east.

The approaching cold front "hit a little speed bump" overnight, said  National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Thompson. "But it is still on  the way, and we can expect some significant rainfall this afternoon."

A Look Outside: California Webcams

Rainfall in western L.A. County, including Malibu and the soggy  Hollywood Hills, was much less intense overnight than the previous four days.  Thompson said an unexpected flow of dry air circled into the mix, pushing rain  clouds away from the western part of the county.

"It split the storm in half, but that gap is rapidly disappearing," he  said. "The western branch of the storm is moving in across Santa Barbara  County this morning, and it has the capacity to drop a half an inch an hour  over L.A. later this morning."

Since Friday, as many as 6 inches had fallen in some urban areas of Los  Angeles, and more than a foot of rain had been measured in some parts of the  San Gabriel Mountains.

Geologists have warned that mudslides and debris flows are likely once  rainfall rates approach an inch per hour.

Gusts up to about 55 mph are possible in the foothills, where rainfall  totals are expected to be higher due to what forecasters call "orographic  lifting'' -- when storm clouds are forced to rise over inclining terrain into  colder air, which squeezes out more moisture.

A countywide flash flood watch is in effect through Wednesday night, and  a wind advisory is in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Metropolitan Los Angeles, which has accumulated more than 5 inches of  rain, could get another 2-4 inches before the sun comes out on Thursday,  according to the NWS. The downtown rainfall record for December is 8.77 inches.

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