Storm Called `One of the Strongest Ever To Hit’ Southland

Storm Called `One of the Strongest Ever To Hit’ Southland

Updated: 26 days, 5 hours, 37 minutes, 30 seconds ago

Several roads were flooded throughout the Southland and thousands of people were without power Saturday as a historic winter storm lashed the area with heavy rain, snow and high winds.

Rainfall was expected to continue falling Saturday night before slight clearing Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service, which called the storm one of then strongest ever to hit Southwest California.

It poured all day and all night Friday and continued raining throughout the morning Saturday in most parts of the Southland, with 5-8 inches of rain across the valleys and almost 12 inches in some lower mountain locations.

As of midday Saturday, the NWS reported 7.5 inches of rain in Pasadena, over 6 inches in Beverly Hills and the San Gabriel Dam and over 10 inches in Woodland Hills.

Los Angeles County lifeguards temporarily closed all beaches in the county Saturday afternoon after lightning strikes were detected near the coast in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach. That order was given shortly after Santa Monica police reported a lightning strike at 12:50 p.m. and urged people on the pier, beach, or in the ocean to seek shelter until the storm passed.

County officials announced at about 3:30 p.m. that the beaches could re-open.

The downpour created extremely dangerous driving conditions. Three motorhomes were swept into the Santa Clara River on Saturday morning when an embankment collapsed at the Valencia Travel Village RV Park in Valencia. They were located downstream but the embankment was continuing to erode, KCAL9 reported. No injuries were reported.

Several freeway and road closures were ongoing Saturday, including:

— The northbound Golden State (5) Freeway was closed from Fletcher Boulevard to Glendale Boulevard due to flooding;

— Farther north, all traffic was being diverted to the carpool lane on the northbound 5 Freeway between Penrose Street and Sheldon Street north of Burbank due to the three right lanes being flooded;

— Northbound I-5 (the Grapevine) was closed between Lake Hughes Road and Templin Highway;

— State Route 39 in the Angeles National Forest was closed in both directions from East Fork Road to State Route 2;

— State Route 2 in the Angeles National Forest was closed in both directions from East Fork Road to Islip Saddle;

— State Route 138 was closed in both directions from 2.2 miles north of I-210 to I-5 to 190th Street West.

In North Hollywood, flooding trapped at least five vehicles on Vineland Avenue next to Hollywood/Burbank Airport. Drivers were able to get out safely and airport operations were not disrupted yet, but flooding was near the runway, ABC7 reported.

Firefighters hoisted two homeless man to safety who were stranded on separate areas of dry land amid deep water in Hansen Dam, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Swiftwater rescue specialists with the Pasadena Fire Department hoisted a storm victim to safety near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory around 9:45 a.m. Saturday.

The NWS’ Los Angeles office reported at 1:33 p.m. that scattered showers and thunderstorms continued to move across the area, with rain rates of 0.10 to 0.30 inches per hour observed along with some small hail.

Meanwhile, a blizzard warning — the first issued in the area since 1989 — remained in place until 4 p.m. Saturday in the Los Angeles mountains. Snow continued to fall at unusually low levels Saturday, as low as 1,000 feet in some areas.

Snow was reported in Santa Clarita and Stevenson Ranch.

Forecasters said it might take well into Saturday night and possibly Sunday morning for snow showers to taper off across the eastern San Gabriel Mountains, and there was a strong chance that winter hazard conditions in the mountains would be extended beyond 4 p.m. Saturday.

“The incredible amount of snow combined with the strong wind will lead to extreme avalanche conditions along steeper terrain and at lower elevations than we typically experience in southern California,” forecasters said. “The most significant threat for avalanches is typically within 24 hours of new snowfall. The heavy snowfall will increase risk of downed trees and power outages and can cause damage to roofs which have shallow slopes.”

Thousands of Southland residents were without power Saturday. Both the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison were reporting multiple large outages that began Friday.

“Our crews worked through pouring rain & wind overnight to restore power,” the LADWP tweeted at 12:33 p.m. Saturday. “At 10AM this morning, 52,000 customers had been restored, while 66,500 remained without power out of LADWP’s 1.5 million customers.”

Some of the larger outages were in East Hollywood, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Toluca Lake, North Hollywood, Valley Village and Studio City, with smaller scattered outages across Los Angeles County. The utility estimated that power would be restored Saturday evening or Saturday night in many of those areas, but said some customers might not get their electricity back until Sunday.

SCE’s outage map showed 53 outages affecting more than 5,000 customers in Los Angeles County as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and 10 outages in Orange County affecting more than 300 customers.

On the bright side, winds were dying down, with gusts diminishing to 15 to 25 mph by Saturday night.

In Duarte, city officials lifted a yellow alert in the Fish Fire burn area that was issued at 11 a.m. Thursday. Melcanyon Road from Brookridge Road to Fish Canyon Road was re-opened. Residents of the 25 homes in the area had been under parking restrictions and ordered to remove trash bins from the street. The trash pickup scheduled for Friday was canceled and rescheduled for Monday, city officials said.

In Orange County, evacuation orders were lifted for Silverado Canyon and Williams Canyon in the Bond Fire burn area as of 7 a.m. Saturday.

Forecasters said that even when the precipitation begins to dissipate, a cold air mass will keep temperatures “much below normal through the weekend.” Saturday’s high in downtown Los Angeles was only expected to reach 52 degrees, with highs of 48 expected in Woodland Hills, 50 in Pasadena and just 45 in Santa Clarita. Temperatures are expected to rise a few degrees Sunday and Monday, but remain mostly in the 50s in most areas.

At the beaches, a high surf advisory expired at 8 a.m. Saturday but could return Tuesday, with local breakers to 10 feet possible for a few hours.

After a break that will feature partially clear skies most of Sunday, another storm is expected to bring rain and snow back to the area Sunday night and then off and on through Wednesday.

The rainy weather forced a series of closures and cancellations of events across the area. Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain were both closed Friday and Saturday. The Major League Soccer season-opening match Saturday at the Rose Bowl between the LA Galaxy and LAFC was postponed until July 4. A BikeLA Cruise & Connect ride scheduled for Saturday through Griffith Park was also scrubbed. And horse racing was canceled through the weekend at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.