A huge Pacific storm that parked itself over Southern California and unloaded, ravaging roads, opening sinkholes and leading to the deaths of at least three people, eased off Saturday. But more rain is in store, albeit much less, for Southern California.
Sunday will be mostly cloudy with a chance of rain after midnight through Tuesday, National Weather Service weather specialist Bonnie Bartling told KPCC.
The rain expected through Tuesday will be considerably less than last week’s downpour with predictions of a tenth of an inch to a third of an inch of rain. Mountains may get up to an inch of rain.
Wednesday has a 20 percent chance of rain and there’s a 10 to 20 percent chance of rain toward the weekend, but NWS will know more later in the week.
Even with a little rain Bartling says to be cautious driving on the roads and through canyon areas because “mudslides can appear days after rain.”
A high surf advisory is in effect through 10 p.m. Sunday on the coast with surf as high as nine to 13 feet with a possibility of strong currents and dangerous conditions. The water is still cool with temperatures in the mid to high 50s.
The L.A. County Public Health Department usually warns residents to be careful of swimming, surfing and playing in ocean water around discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers three days after a rain. Fresh rain tends to flush bacteria, chemicals, debris and trash from city streets out into the ocean.
Southern California rain fallout
Southern California appeared to dodge any major disasters, but in the desert town of Victorville, several cars were washed down a flooded street, and one man was found dead in a submerged vehicle after others were rescued, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Eric Sherwin said.
And in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, a man was electrocuted when a tree falling in heavy rain downed power lines that hit his car.
On Saturday, searchers found the body of a man in his 20s who was swept down a rain-swollen gully in Thousand Oaks a day earlier. KCBS-TV reported that the body was found in Arroyo Conejo Creek. Three other people stranded by the water were rescued.
Inland at the Cajon Pass, the shoulder of Interstate 15 crumbled and sent a parked firetruck spilling over the side, but no one was hurt. The California Department of Transportation estimated emergency repairs to the freeway would cost $3 million.
In Studio City near the 4200 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, a sinkhole swallowed two cars, the second on live TV as viewers watched it teeter on the edge before plunging in. One driver was taken to the hospital in fair condition.
Road closures remain in effect on Laurel Canyon Boulevard with only local access from Ventura Place north to Moorpark Street. No access is permitted from west of Agnes Avenue through Laurel Canyon Boulevard to an alley shortly before Vantage Avenue. See a map of Laurel Canyon Blvd closures attached to this post.
More road closures in Los Angeles County can be found here.
Lake Oroville work continues
While flash-flood watches for Southern California were canceled, Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area were facing a weekend return of heavy rain and winds that lashed them earlier in the week before the storm moves out. Authorities said the San Joaquin River is reaching flood stage, and they are warning residents in Manteca to be ready to evacuate in case it reaches dangerous levels.
"Stronger southerly winds and widespread flooding will be likely as an atmospheric river (of moisture) takes aim somewhere along the central California Coast," a weather statement warned.
The approaching rain could cause more problems in the far north, where damage to spillways of the Lake Oroville dam forced the evacuation of 188,000 people last weekend.
The California Department of Water Resources, however, said Saturday night that the level of Lake Oroville continues to fall despite the stormy weather, and the amount of water flowing down the spillway continues to be cut. The amount of water flowing down the spillway has been reduced to 55,000 cubic feet per second, the department said. Earlier this week, outflows were at nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second.
In a statement, the department says that "as runoff flows into the reservoir, water levels will likely fluctuate but will remain within acceptable and typical depths during times of storm activity."
Despite current inclement weather, work continues on the area below the spillway, the monoliths, access roads, and various eroded areas created by emergency spillway runoff, DWR said in a statement. Rock, aggregate, and cement slurry continue to be placed into areas affected by erosion. This work will continue 24 hours a day.
Meanwhile, authorities up and down the state were dealing with the fallout, including overflowing creeks, mudslide threats in foothill areas denuded by previous fires, road collapses and hundreds of toppled trees in neighborhoods.
Northwest of Sacramento, nearly 200 people were evacuated Saturday as overflowing creeks turned the town of Maxwell into a brown pond, with some homes getting 2 feet of water. Fire Chief Kenny Cohen said nearly 100 homes and the elementary school filled with a couple inches of water before the water began receding. The area received about 3 inches of rain as of Saturday morning.
No injuries were reported.
Cheri Azevedo said her garage had 2 feet of water, but her home had been spared Saturday. Others on her block and nearby were not as lucky, as all of them were evacuated.
"It is heartbreaking," she told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Emergency crews are watching Southern California burn areas and spots around the region that are prone to flooding, mudslides and dangerous debris flows.
L.A. County Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina had this advice for people who live in those areas:
"If you see running water going down your street, please don't get into it because a lot of people don't know the power of water, and water that's even to ankle high can push someone down the stream."
Around the Southland, officials encouraged drivers to report anything they see that could block the roads – whether that's a downed tree or mudslides. You can report anything obstructing traffic by dialing 311 or to check out the My L.A. 311 website.
Driver aid can also come in the form of the Metro Freeway Service Patrol, who will be on duty until 7 p.m. Friday night. Commuters can call 511 and ask for “Motorist Aid” from their phones or call from a freeway callbox. Free services include, changing flat tires, jump-starting cars, towing and providing up to a gallon of fuel.
L.A. County issued a press release with these safety and preparation tips:
If you experience flash flooding, move to higher ground and/or the highest point in the house. Stay out of riverbeds and flood control channels during the storm. Water flow during storm is unpredictable and dangerous. Dial 9-1-1 if you see someone caught in a flood control channel.
In the event of thunderstorms, take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds, garages or small structures in open areas. Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords.
Follow evacuation orders issued by law enforcement agencies immediately – hesitating or not leaving may put you and your loved ones in life threatening danger.
Drive with your headlights on during rainy weather, and make sure your windshield wipers are working properly before rain starts.
Freeway flooding may happen – avoid driving in pooled water. Standing water is often deeper than it looks, and can conceal tire-damaging debris or make vehicles inoperable.
“Turn Around Don’t Drown.” Don’t attempt to cross swift moving water; as little as two feet of rushing water can sweep a vehicle away.
At home and in the community:
Power outages may happen – keep a working flashlight, and a battery operated radio handy.
Help keep your neighborhood flood safe by parking vehicles and placing trash containers away from catch basins.
Avoid parking on streets that may be vulnerable to mud and debris flows.
Report clogged drains, blocked roads or fallen trees in the unincorporated areas by calling the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Dispatch at 1-800-675-HELP (4357).
Avoid beach areas. Storm surges may cause beach erosion and damaging high surf conditions with dangerous waves and rip currents to coastal areas.
Visit the Los Angeles County’s Storm Season website at http://www.lacounty.gov/LARain to view tips on how to prepare your home, where to pick-up sandbags, and how to register for Alert LA County so that emergency messages are sent to your mobile telephone or e-mail.
Los Angeles County residents, renters, and business owners, including persons with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, may call 211 LA County for emergency preparedness information, and other referral services. The toll-free 2-1-1 number is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 211 LA County services can also be accessed by visiting http://211la.org.
AP writers John Antczak and Mike Balsamo contributed to this report.
This story has been updated.
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