California Storm Causes Flooding, Triggers Evacuations Across Los Angeles
Several freeways and roads were shut down as areas like Malibu and Topanga Canyon experienced mudslides.
Fast-moving floodwaters swept through California mountain communities and residents fled homes below hillsides scarred by wildfires as the third — and largest — in the latest series of storms brought a deluge Sunday and warnings about damaging mudslides.
The National Weather Service cautioned that the system was expected to gain strength into the evening and could be the strongest storm in at least seven years. California has been swamped during a wet winter that has brought plenty of rain and snow after years of drought.
Rock slides, debris flows and flooding closed roads and snarled traffic up and down the state as the third storm in four days dumped heavy rain and snow in the mountains.
Flash flood watches and warnings were in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain locations could see up to six inches of rain. Rain fell at a rate of nearly three-quarters of an inch per hour.
The California Transportation Agency kept its Twitter followers updated on the latest closures, ranging from a portion of the 405 and 710 freeways to several surface streets in the city, due to flooding, fallen trees and rock and mudslides. Traffic was diverted off Interstate 110 south of downtown Los Angeles because of water flowing across lanes.
Authorities ordered evacuations near wildfire burn areas in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Potential debris flows could restrict access for emergency responders, officials said.
The Santa Monica News reported that the California Incline was closed because of mud and debris that had fallen from the nearby bluffs.
Meanwhile, Nichols Canyon residents were reporting they had no power Sunday and also experienced rock slides, while parts of Mulholland Drive and Topanga Canyon Boulevard also saw mudslides, and Laurel Canyon Boulevard was closed down.
Malibu experienced heavy water flows off the mountains as the Malibu Search and Rescue Team warned residents to look out for rock and mudslides on several roads.
The area near the Seal Beach Pier in Orange County also was flooded.
Some residents refused to leave, but Ralph Olivas loaded up his family and their dog and left his home in Duarte, nestled in the scenic foothills east of Los Angeles that were left bare by wildfires last June. Recent rain sent rocks down steep streets where homeowners built protective barriers out of lumber and sandbags.
In northern Los Angeles County, about 120 residents near burn areas of Santa Clarita were ordered to leave late Saturday. During Friday's storm, raging floodwaters overflowed a creek and sent a sheriff's cruiser floating down a street.
Residents who ignore orders to leave can put first responders at risk later if rescues are needed, said Mike Eliason with the fire department in Santa Barbara County, where canyon areas wiped clean by wildfires were under caution of flash flooding.
According to KABC-TV, the rain should continue through Sunday night and Monday, with some showers possible Tuesday.