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Home / News / Environment / Flood fears escalate as storm continues to soak SoCal

Flood fears escalate as storm continues to soak SoCal

by City News Service
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Storm-weary Southland residents were coping with more rain Tuesday as a relentless atmospheric river continued to soak the area and raise the risk of mudslides, flooding and debris flows.

Although an end to the storm system was in sight, forecasters warned that precipitation will persist through the day. According to the National Weather Service, as much as 2 inches of rain fell in the southeastern portion of Los Angeles by 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“While many areas south of Point Conception have received minimal rain today, a return of heavier rain is likely this afternoon, especially from Ventura County south,” according to the NWS.

Forecasters added: “Periods of rain, mountain snow, and possible thunderstorms will continue through this evening. A few hours of moderate to heavy rain are possible later Wednesday afternoon and evening. Snow levels will lower each day with mountain snow issues increasing. Gusty west to northwest winds will form Wednesday and continue into Thursday.”

A strong storm cell passed through southeastern Los Angeles County Tuesday morning, prompting sudden flooding and mudflows in the La Habra Heights, Hacienda Heights and La Mirada areas, inundating several streets and potentially damaging some homes. The NWS had issued a flash flood warning in that area, noting that heavy rain began falling in the area just before 9:30 a.m.

With rain still falling, the storm that began Sunday afternoon has already toppled local precipitation records.

As of early Tuesday morning, the storm had already dropped 12 inches in Bel Air over the three-day period, just under 12 inches in Sepulveda Canyon at Mulholland and more than 11.5 inches in Woodland Hills, according to the National Weather Service. Beverly Hills received more than 8 inches, while downtown Los Angeles got about 7.5 inches and Pasadena saw 7 inches.

The two-day rain total for downtown Los Angeles for Sunday and Monday was 7.03 inches, the third highest rain total for two consecutive days in downtown L.A. since 1877, when rain totals started being recorded, according to the NWS. The highest two-day total was 7.98 inches set on Dec. 31, 1933, and Jan. 1, 1934. The second highest two-day total was 7.44 inches set on Jan. 25 and 26, 1956.

In just two days, downtown Los Angeles has received roughly half of its 30-year average seasonal rainfall, which is 14.25 inches.

According to the National Weather Service, 4.10 inches of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles Sunday, breaking the daily rainfall total for Feb. 4 of 2.55 inches set in 1927. It was the third wettest February day and the 12th wettest day for anytime during the year since 1877, when rainfall totals first started being recorded. The wettest day on record for downtown Los Angeles was 5.88 inches set on March 21, 1938.

A total of 1.76 inches of rain were reported at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday, breaking the record for the day of 0.56 inches set in 1958. There were 1.50 inches of rain reported at Long Beach Airport, breaking the record for the day of 0.69 inches set in 1975.

Downtown Los Angeles broke another record Monday, receiving 2.93 inches of rain. That set a record for the date, surpassing the previous record of 2.30 inches, set 123 years ago in 1901, according to the NWS.

A total of 2.57 inches of rain were reported at Los Angeles International Airport Monday, again breaking the record for the day of 1.42 inches set in 1978. There were 2.57 inches of rain reported at Long Beach Airport, breaking the record for the day of 1.4 inches set in 1978.

A total of 2.19 inches of rain were reported at Hollywood Burbank Airport Monday, breaking the record for the day of 1.46 inches set in 2009.

The record rainfall extended to the Antelope Valley. There were 1.7 inches of rain reported at Palmdale Airport, breaking the record for the day of 0.61 of an inch set in 1948. The rainfall in Lancaster was 1.49 inches, breaking the record for the day of 0.48 of an inch set in 2009.

The NWS issued a series of flood advisories and flash flood warnings Tuesday as rain fell in spurts across the area.

A winter storm warning will remain in effect until 10 p.m. in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, where as much as 1 to 2 feet of snow could accumulate above 7,000 feet, with as much as 3 inches possible as low as 4,000 feet.

A winter weather advisory will remain in effect until 10 p.m. for the western San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway corridor.

Once the main storm system passes by later Tuesday night, forecasters said a roughly 20% to 40% chance of rain will linger through Friday, although most of that precipitation is expected to be light.

In the meantime, mud and debris flows continue to be a risk, with multiple homes already damaged by slides that occurred Sunday and Monday.

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley said that as of Monday afternoon, the LAFD had responded to 307 reports of mudslides and 35 incidents of buildings requiring inspection due to mudslides or slope failures. So far, five buildings have been red-tagged as uninhabitable and seven others are yellow-tagged, which allows people to enter only to collect their belongings.

In the Hollywood Hills, a mudslide severely damaged six homes and threatened a seventh along Beverly Drive in the Beverly Crest area. Los Angeles Fire Department crews escorted 15 residents out of the area, including nine children, but no injuries were reported. City Building and Safety crews were assessing the extent of damage to the homes.

Two homes sustained significant damage in Studio City when mud and debris slid down a hillside along Lockridge Road. Fire crews evacuated residents from nine homes on the stretch. In the Tarzana/Encino area, three homes were impacted by a debris flow along Boris Drive, prompting some evacuations.

Road closures were in effect across the region, and the entire Sepulveda Basin remained off limits. Pacific Coast Highway at the Los Angeles County and Ventura County border is closed on the northbound side because of flooding.

Evacuation orders and warnings also remained in place for many areas.

The intense storm prompted the California Department of Water Resources on Monday to release excess storm water through the gated spillway at Pyramid Dam. The water will be stored downstream in Lake Piru for future water supply, the department reported.

The city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority increased shelter and housing voucher availability to accommodate an influx of homeless people coming in from the storm. Shelters were opened at the Lincoln Heights Senior Citizen Center at 2323 Workman St., Mid Valley Senior Citizen Shelter at 8825 Kester Ave. in Panorama City, South LA Sports Activity Center at 7020 S. Figueroa St. and Oakwood Recreation Center at 767 California Ave. Residents can call 2-1-1 for transportation to a shelter.

Los Angeles officials urged residents to stay home and off the roads as the storm continued. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in eight counties in the state, including Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Los Angeles County later declared its own state of emergency, and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Monday also signed a local emergency declaration.

The emergency proclamations will help expedite procurement of vital supplies and resources, deployment of disaster service workers and the use of emergency protective measures such as evacuation orders, officials said.

“We’ll get any help on the way as soon as you guys request it, so just let me know,” President Joe Biden told Bass in a telephone call during her late Monday afternoon briefing.

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