Powerful Storm Packs Punch Over SoCal

Mandatory and voluntary evacuations were ordered, freeways and roads were shut down in several locations during storm

Freeways flooded in the Long Beach and Carson area, trees fell onto cars and houses, power was knocked out and more than three inches of rain fell in the South Bay area Sunday.

The southern end of the Long Beach (710) Freeway flooded, south of Willow Street, and the Harbor (110) Freeway was underwater at 223rd Street, according to CHP reports.

Miles of stopped cars clogged the 110 Freeway heading towards San Pedro.

County weather gauges measured 3.4 inches of rain at Lomita, 2.9 inches at Signal Hill and 2.6 inches on the Palos Verdes peninsula. Fire crews were dispatched to reports of people trapped in flooded vehicles on Vermont Avenue, and people were reported to be in need of rescue at a homeless encampment in a park was flooded on Pacific Coast Highway west of the Harbor (110) Freeway.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Long Beach and South Bay area, and said its radar and gauges detected rain falling at the rate of 3/4-inch per hour. Inland, sheriff's deputies went door to door to evacuate houses in hillside neighborhoods beneath burned-out slopes Sunday.

Heavy rain had moved into western Los Angeles County, and a flash flood warning issued for the entire county, by midmorning. By 2 p.m., nearly 2 inches of rain had fallen in Newhall, near where fire-denuded hillsides were threatening to send mud into adjacent neighborhoods. Western L.A. County got the first large rains: 1.82 inches of rain at Topanga Canyon, and 2 inches of rain at Zuma Beach, had fallen by 2 p.m.

By early Sunday evening, the rainfall had set new records. Long Beach Airport received 3.87 inches of rain by 5 p.m., breaking the all-time daily record for rainfall. Los Angeles Airport got 2.78 inches of rain Sunday, another all-time daily record.

Snow was falling on the 5,700-foot summit of Mount Wilson, much lower than the predicted level early in the storm.

But the snow was not expected to fall as low In Duarte, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for homes in subdivision below the Fish Fire. The Army Corps of Engineers was making room for storm runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains and Inland Empire, by releasing water into the Santa Ana River at Prado Dam, according to Orange County firefighters.

The concrete flood control channel would carry that water to the ocean near Newport Beach. Los Angeles police said they were watching the Sepulveda Basin, where busy Burbank Boulevard by midmorning was already covered in standing water on two of the three eastbound lanes.

A police sergeant said officers were ready to declare the road closed as more rain arrives. County geologists said Saturday that the cliffs in Malibu Canyon were unsafe, and boulders might fall on the narrow two-lane linking Calabasas and Malibu. That road might be closed through the end of the week, Malibu officials said. Residents along Kanan-Dume Road said county road scrapers were working to keep mud off that route starting at 4:30 a.m. At Zuma Beach, fire department bulldozer drivers worked in the surfline Saturday to bolster sand berms in front of the lifeguard headquarters and restroom buildings.

At high tide, waves were observed hitting the seawall. And winds were strong, blowing form the east. Gusts above Topanga Canyon hit 44 miles per hour. At Hermosa Beach, the pier was closed due to heavy rain and high surf. Surf up to 16 feet had been predicted overnight, but the waves were predicted to diminish. At Santa Anita Park, today's races were cancelled. But the betting hall was kept open for hard-core fans to wager on races in sunnier climes.

"The atmospheric river continues to look strong," said the National Weather Service. "Up to six inches or rain could fall in areas near mountains, where the heavy clouds would experience uplift and shed large amounts of rain."

Between 2-4 inches of rainfall is expected in the coastal and valley areas of Los Angeles Countym and 3-6 inches could fall in the foothill and mountain areas. But the flatlands of Orange County would get drenched, too. The NWS predicted 1.35 inches of rain for the Orange County coast this afternoon. Radar images showed heavier rain moving ashore, as predicted, at 10 a.m. It would continue through the evening, according to NWS Meteorologist Carol Smith.

This storm is particularly moist and slow-moving, Smith said, with potential for a bigger punch than the two storms before it. The moisture is subtropical, moving in from the southwest with "a good lift over the San Gabriel Mountains."

"We are definitely looking at possible flooding," Smith said.

A flash flood watch was issued for all of Los Angeles County today through evening, with debris flows also possible in burn areas. Periods of intense rainfall are forecast for this afternoon at rates of 1 to 1 1/2 inches per hour, she said.

The NWS issued a flash flood warning for Los Angeles County from this afternoon to the evening, with flash flooding, debris flows, landslides and rockslides due to the periods of heavy rain.

Rainfall should diminish to showers early Monday with a slight chance of thunderstorms through the day and light showers in the afternoon, tapering off into evening, Smith said.

The weather will clear after lingering showers pass Tuesday and Wednesday through Friday should be clear and cool, with temperatures in the low to mid-60s, she said. The drought impact of the past week's storms could be quantified Monday, Smith said. That's when the state's drought update will be issued.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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