LA rain updates: Sewage flows into ocean after floods overrun construction site

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A low-pressure system packed with moisture from former tropical cyclone Linda unleashed heavy rain on the Southland today, dropping a record amount of rain in areas of Los Angeles and wreaking havoc with the morning commute before easing up into the afternoon.

We'll be updating this story throughout the day. Check back for new information, and let us know your commuting horror story on Facebook.


Update 4:09 p.m. 250,000 gallons of sewage flow into ocean, construction site overrun by flooding

A surge of stormwater fed by heavy rains early Tuesday overran a construction site in the Rubio Wash in the San Gabriel area, forcing the evacuation of a home, breaking a sewer line and causing about 250,000 gallons of sewage to flow into the ocean in Long Beach, 33 miles away.

"As part of the construction, the sewer was exposed," Steve Highter, a spokesman for L.A. County Sanitation Districts, told KPCC. "It wasn't buried, and I guess as flows increased due to the rains and came down the wash, they overcame the construction site and our sewer was actually washed out, so hence there was a sewer overflow."

The spill, first reported around 7 a.m., prompted Long Beach officials to close all beaches. The spill has since been stopped, but the public health officer for Long Beach said in a statement that all beaches would remain closed until lab results confirm the water is safe.

Crews worked to repair the sewer line and shore up the wash ahead of another wave of anticipated rains Tuesday night, said Mark Christoffels, CEO of the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority, which is overseeing the construction site.

The storm water caused a temporary wall to give way, and that in turn undermined the foundation at an adjacent home on Pondosa Avenue, Christoffels told KPCC.

The home has been red-tagged, and the property owners have received temporary quarters with assistance from the Red Cross, Christoffels said.

The home will be reassessed after the wash can be repaired, which could take a week.

KPCC staff

Update 1:50 p.m. San Gabriel house undermined by flood control channel

In the city of San Gabriel, crews from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works were working in the 5300 block of Pondosa Avenue to keep a house from falling into the Rubio Wash flood control channel.

Water flowing through the channel had undermined the house, said Kerjon Lee, a Public Works spokesman.

The house is located next to a construction project, where the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority has been building a railroad bridge.

LACDPW video

— KPCC staff

Update 1:20 p.m. Slight chance of rain through afternoon commute

There's a slight chance of showers Tuesday afternoon and into the night in the greater Los Angeles area, the National Weather Service's Robbie Monroe tells KPCC, but the chances of rain will dissipate overnight as moisture shifts to the east.

Meanwhile, Doppler radar indicates heavy rain that will cause minor flooding in parts of Riverside and San Diego counties before 2 p.m.

Afternoon commutes are often easier during rain than morning commutes after morning rain, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson tells KPCC. Reasons include people deciding not to go to work due to the rain.

During the morning commute, there were 388 collisions between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. across L.A. County.

 KPCC staff

Update 11:47 a.m. Some advice for your ride home: Slow down; consider side streets

Traffic conditions on L.A. roadways are less stressed than they were earlier in the day, when dozens of collisions — including three to four overturned big rigs on L.A.'s freeways — snarled morning commutes.

California Highway Patrol Officer Jose Barrios said that drivers should leave early, consider taking alternate routes Tuesday — including side streets — and warned drivers to take it slow. 

"Once you mix the water and oil, it's going to make it slippery and slick," he said. "You'll be at fault if you do you get in a collision because you're driving way too fast for the condition of the roadway."

Barrios added that commuters' outlook for the afternoon drive appeared to be better, now that the heaviest of the downpour seemed to have passed.

"Right now, Southern California freeways in L.A. County, you are going to be facing major delays," he said. "Hopefully that'll die down within the next two or three hours, just because the rain is starting to be not as heavy as it was early in the morning."

A glance at Google's traffic map showed conditions much better than they had been earlier in the day: 

See the current traffic map here. 

Update 11:09 a.m. Storm knocks out power to thousands

Thousands of residents across Southern California are experiencing power outages due to the weather.

“Right now, it looks like the most significant numbers are in Los Angeles County,” said Southern California Edison spokesperson Robert Villegas. “But obviously, as the rain progresses through the area and in to Orange County and into the Inland Empire, we'll see some changes in that.”

Over 25,000 SoCal Edison customers were affected this morning, according to the utility's website.

About 8,200 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers also lost power this morning, including approximately 1,300 in Glassell Park; 1,600 in South Los Angeles; and 1,500 in the Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey areas.

“The rain definitely plays a big part in this when various heavy rains and winds,” said LADWP spokesperson Michelle Figueroa. “A lot of palm fronds fall on our power lines that therefore strain some of our power poles.”

Figueroa cautions people to stay away from downed power lines.

You can see LADWP and SoCal Edison's process on power outages below: 

— Kristina Bravo, KPCC

Update 8:43 a.m. Rainfall reaches record levels in areas of LA

The total in downtown L.A. —2.39 inches — marked a record for Sept. 15 and more rain than has fallen in the region all year, said National Weather Service meteorologist Robbie Munroe. You can see full totals at the weather service's website

The NWS issued a flood advisory for Los Angeles County until 11:15 a.m.

At one point this morning, rain was falling at a rate of up to one-third of an inch per hour, the NWS said. Other rainfall totals from midnight through about 8 a.m. reached 1.18 inches in Northridge and 1.93 inches in Culver City.

The Los Angeles Fire Department swift water rescue team conducted two rescues from the Los Angeles River. Two men and a dog were pulled out near the Taylor Yard near Cypress Park, and another man was rescued near the Glendale Freeway bridge. Two of the rescues were taken to hospitals and were in fair condition, the LAFD said.

Twitter river rescue

An LAFD team also rescued two people from San Jose Creek, near the 605 Freeway in Industry, shortly after 10 a.m., said the fire Inspector Randall Wright. 

The wet conditions triggered traffic mishaps throughout the greater Los Angeles area and prompted the issuance of SigAlerts on the 118 Freeway in Granada Hills, the 5 Freeway in Echo Park and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

"We have certainly seen an real increase in crashes on area freeways,'' said CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos. "There's been a lot of spinouts, overturned vehicles, jackknifed trucks and fender benders.''

In South L.A., rain flooded the 710 Freeway between Florence and Slauson avenues.

Caltrans 710 tweet

In West Hollywood, a leaking roof prompted the evacuation today of at least 135 residents from a three-story assisted living apartment building at 838 West Knoll Drive, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher.

Deputies from the sheriff's West Hollywood station and officials from Metro were called in 5:03 a.m. to assist in the evacuation of the residents and transport them by bus to the West Hollywood Park Auditorium at 647 San Vicente Blvd., said Lt. Edward Ramirez of the sheriff's West Hollywood station.

LAFD video

The weather system's main band of rain will hover over the region until around noon, said NWS meteorologist Andrew Rorke. Some showers are expected Wednesday morning, followed by a sunny afternoon, he said.

Much of Los Angeles County is expected to see between two-tenths and a half-inch of rain today from the current weather system that began drenching the region early this morning.

The rain is from a low-pressure system that's combining with moisture from former tropical cyclone Linda, an NWS statement said. The system is also expected to produce high winds, including gusts of 50 mph in the Antelope Valley, it said.

"Since many areas have seen little or no rainfall in the past couple of months, a buildup of oil on the roadways could lead to extra slippery driving conditions,'' the statement warned. "Rainfall could cause minor urban roadway flooding across Los Angeles county, which could be worsened by clogged storm drains and culverts.''

The NWS forecast highs today of 69 on Mount Wilson; 71 in Avalon; 74 at LAX; 75 in Pasadena and Saugus; 76 in San Gabriel, Burbank and San Clemente; 77 in Long Beach, downtown L-A and Woodland Hills; 78 in Newport Beach; 79 in Laguna Beach, Palmdale and Lancaster; 80 in Irvine and Mission Viejo; 81 in Anaheim and Fullerton; and 82 in Yorba Linda.

Marginally lower temperatures were expected under partly cloudy skies for Thursday, followed by a slight temperature uptick under sunny skies and a return to highs in the 90s in some Southland communities on Saturday.

This story has been updated.

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