Massive Storm Pounds SoCal with Rain, Flooding and Snow

Massive Storm Pounds SoCal with Rain, Flooding and Snow

15 December 2008

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USA — A cold, wet and windy storm intensified Monday, threatening flooding in Southern California burn areas, causing slick driving conditions, and collapsing the roof of an occupational school.

The storm is expected to dump up about three-quarters of an inch to 1 1/2 inches of rain on coastal and valley areas and up to twice that amount on the foothills and mountains. Rainfall rates could exceed a half-inch per hour in some areas Monday afternoon.

As of 6:00PM, record totals include:
 – 1.38 inches at Long Beach Airport (breaks old record of .63″ set in 1988)
 – 1.89 inches at LAX (breaks old record of 1.04″ set in 1957)
 – 2.60 inches at UCLA (breaks old record of 1.13″ set in 1957)
 – 1.13 inches at San Gabriel (breaks old record of .96 in 1957)
 – 1.54 inches at National Weather Service Office in Oxnard (breaks old record of 1.5″ set in 1957)

Track the Storm

The California Highway Patrol had reported at least 240 freeway accidents between 10:45 p.m. Sunday and 9:30 a.m. Monday. Many involved vehicles spinning out in the wet conditions.

CHP officers reported two traffic fatalities, including a 29-year-old CHP officer directing traffic around a crash on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights. In San Diego, one person was killed and another injured when an armored truck skidded and rolled down and embankment.

Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 15 early Monday through the Cajon Pass, the CHP said. Snow was also falling along the 5 Freeway near Frazier Park, and snowfall forced the CHP to shepherd motorists over the Tejon Pass in caravans.

Snow tires or chains were required on all trans-Sierra highways.

Flooding was reported along the 105 Freeway near LAX and the 118 Freeway in Chatsworth.

The Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area was closed to traffic Monday morning, but was reopened as of 12:30 p.m. Burbank Boulevard was reopened between Balboa Blvd. and the San Diego (405) Freeway, and Balboa Blvd. and Woodley Ave. were also reopened.

Orange County burn areas were placed under voluntary evacuations Sunday night, however, the order became mandatory Monday morning for residents of Brush Canyon, Box Canyon and North Fairmont/San Antonio areas, including commercial structures west of Via del Rio and north of La Palma in Yorba Linda.

The evacuation order affects hundreds of homes, according to the Brea Police Department. No word yet on when affected residents may be allowed to return home.

The Thomas Lasorda Field House at 4701 Casa Loma Avenue was opened as a shelter.

Homeowners and residents in all recent burn areas were encouraged to prepare their properties ahead of the rainstorms by getting sandbags from Los Angeles City Fire stations. Fire officials say when sandbags are filled and deployed properly, they redirect water and debris flows away from homes and property.

Heavy rains also appear to be responsible for the collapse of a roof at an adult occupational training school in Orange County. At least 13 people were hurt when a faulty drain caused water to build up atop one of the school’s classrooms, eventually buckling the roof.

A flash flood warning was in effect Monday morning in portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties denuded by the recent wildfires, including Griffith Park.

A flash flood watch — less serious than a flash flood warning — was in effect through the afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, the local mountains, Santa Catalina Island, and the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys.

The National Weather Service also issued a gale warning over the ocean and a winter storm warning for the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The winter storm warning will remain in effect until 6  p.m. A winter weather advisory has been issued for the foothills of the Antelope Valley through 4 p.m. Monday.

A high wind warning was in effect for canyon and mountain areas, where gusts ranged from 20 mph to 60 mph.

The storm’s arrival coincided with with high tides, which coastal flooding in some areas.

A section of Pacific Coast Highway between Warner Ave. and Anderson St. in Sunset Beach had to be closed down on both sides while crews pumped out water. The Orange County Fire Authority said some homes were in danger of being flooded.

Rainfall totals for Monday morning ranged from 1.38 inches in Moorpark to 2.16 inches at Santa Barbara County’s Gibralter Dam. Downtown Los Angeles had recorded 1.76 inches of rain by Monday afternoon.

Snow was falling in areas above 3,000 feet. Lockwood Valley in the mountains of Ventura County had 8 inches already by midmorning.

Snow accumulations through Monday evening were expected to average 12 to 18 inches in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with the highest totals above 5,000 feet.

The snow level will generally be around 4,000 feet, according to the NWS, but it could drop down to 3,000 feet on northern and interior slopes and in the Antelope Valley.

Another storm is possible Tuesday night and Wednesday, according to the NWS. Temperatures will remain about 15 degrees cooler than normal thorough the rainy period. Showers are expected to be lighter on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Southland is in need of the rain after seeing far less than its typical 15 inches of precipitation for the past two years. Only about 1.8 inches of rain has fallen since July 1.

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