Los Angeles

Winter Storm Downs Trees, Prompts Flooding in SoCal

A cold winter storm was moving through Southern California, unleashing moderate to heavy rain, strong winds and isolated thunderstorms on Sunday. 

Forecasters warned the storm could bring flooding and mud flows in recent burn areas, dangerous driving conditions in the mountains, and powerful winds that could potentially down trees and power lines, according to the National Weather Service.

Southern California Edison reported at 10:45 p.m. that more than 49,000 customers across SoCal were affected by weather-related outages.

Los Angeles and Ventura Counties were the hardest hit. As many as 25,065 customers in LA were affected, and 12,234 in Ventura early in the day.

More than 6,000 were affected in San Bernardino, about 5,600 in Orange County, and nearly 4,000 in Riverside County. Crews were working to resolve the problems. 

A series of protective road closures were in effect over the weekend on mountain roads that are typically susceptible to rock slides, including the Angeles Forest Highway-Big Tujunga Canyon route between Palmdale and the La Crescenta area. Highway 2 remained closed due to winter storm damage between Islip Saddle -- above Mount Wilson -- and the Big Pines area near Mountain High Ski Area.

Flash flood warnings had been issued for burns areas in LA and Ventura counties until Sunday afternoon. Part of Ventura County and northeastern Los Angeles County was also under a thunderstorm warning through about 1:30 p.m., the National Weather Service said. 

In Ventura County, lanes on Highway 101 and Pacific Coast Highway near the Solimar burn area were temporarily blocked at State Beaches due to flooding. The Emma Wood Campground was also evacuated. Northbound lanes of Pacific Coast Highway near the Emma Stone State Beach off-ramp remained closed as of 11:45 a.m.

In Ojai, strong winds knocked down a tree into a home in the 300 block of N. Charrizo Street just before noon. The Ventura County Fire Department said three adults and three dogs were displaced as the home was heavily damaged.

Downed trees were also reported in Gardena, Studio City and Burbank, where several lanes of the 134 Freeway near Pass Avenue were blocked. 

One woman in San Diego was killed when a giant tree fell on four cars.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department took precautionary measures ahead of the incoming weather, offering sand bags to residents living near areas prone to debris flow and mudslides.

Meanwhile, the LA County Public Health Department issued a rain advisory for all Los Angeles County beaches, warning residents of bacteria, debris and trash that could pose a public health hazard for swimmers and surfers. The advisory was in effect until Tuesday night, officials said.

The piers at Redondo, Manhattan, and Hermosa Beaches were shut down due to high wind advisories, the Manhattan Beach Lifeguard Station confirmed.

Up to two inches of rain was expected in the flatlands and valleys of Los Angeles County and as many as three inches possible for southwest-facing foothills and mountains, according to Wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour were forecast for mountain areas and up to 50 mph for coastal and valley regions, raising the fear of downed trees, dropped power lines and power outages. Most of the rain should exit the region by this evening or early Monday with rain and snow showers lingering in some mountain areas, forecasters said.

Snow levels will be at around the 7,000 feet level, dropping to as low as 5,500 feet by late today, according to the National Weather Service. As cold air moves into the region tonight, snow levels could drop as low as 2,500 on some mountain slopes. That could lead to ice and snow on Interstate 5, which crests over the Grapevine , according to the NWS.

A high surf advisory was in effect for the period covering 10 p.m. today to 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Gale force winds could generate breakers on top of the 10-foot swells, leading to occasional 15 foot waves on wets facing beaches, according to the NWS. Drier conditions and warmer temperatures are expected next week.

On the bright side, about 400 million gallons of stormwater were captured during the storm, which would be enough to serve 4,000 people for one year, according to LA County Public Works.

To request sandbags, visit lacity.org or locate your nearest fire station to obtain sandbags here.

City News Services contributed to this report.

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