Storm moves ashore as officials brace for mudslides, coastal flooding
A powerful new storm was pushing ashore this morning as officials prepared for more mudslides and coastal flooding.
According to the National Weather Service, today’s storm — the third in three days — is expected to dump 1 to 2 inches of rain in the L.A. basin and valley areas and 3 to 4 inches in foothill and mountain areas.
The California Highway Patrol closed Interstate 5 at the Grapevine because of snow. The Cajon Pass remained open, but motorists reported extremely poor visibility on the mountain roadway that provides access to Victorville, Barstow and eventually Las Vegas.]
Officials issued a flash flood watch and thunderstorm warning for the region, forecasting sustained rainfall and fierce winds. Forecasters say the strongest drenching could occur Thursday, with up to 3 inches of rain and the possible return of tornado-like conditions.
The National Weather Service has also issued a high-surf advisory and a coastal flood warning for Los Angeles County beaches. Meteorologist Jamie Meier predicted waves as high as 40 feet and winds as strong as 90 mph, compared with 8- to 12-foot surf and peak gusts of 70 mph Tuesday.
In anticipation of mudslides, the Los Angeles Police Department issued evacuation orders in the northeastern San Fernando Valley, where residents in 262 homes were supposed to leave by 9 a.m.
"We’re asking you to please cooperate," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference at Fire Station 81 in Panorama City. "There’s too many people not heeding advice."
Two Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s were struck by lightning during their flights today but landed safely at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. One flight attendant who complained of pain in her arm was taken to a hospital for examination, authorities said.
The airliners, which were flying to Burbank from Sacramento and Oakland, landed at 9:38 a.m. and 9:57 a.m., said Marilee McInnis, a spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines. Both planes were taken out of service to check for possible damage.
Warning that lives could be at risk, Villaraigosa pleaded today with residents in mudslide-prone foothill areas to evacuate and said the city could be looking at a “La Conchita situation” if the intense rains move in as forecast. Ten people were killed in La Conchita in 2005 when the hillsides above the small Ventura County community came down.
Joined at a late-morning news conference by Police Chief Charlie Beck and Fire Chief Millage Peaks, the mayor said that hillside communities from Glendale to Sunland were at the greatest risk.
“We’re asking you to work with us on this,” the mayor said.]
So far, two fatalities have been blamed on the series of storms. An El Cajon woman was crushed to death Tuesday afternoon when the passing storm uprooted a tree, which fell on her. On Monday night, a 100-foot tree crashed to the ground in Frazier Park, crushing a man and his home.
Tuesday’s storm was brief and intense, as coastal areas were subjected to hail, thunder, lightning and powerful winds for about two hours before giving way to sunshine and rainbows.
The National Weather Service recorded at least seven tornado, four waterspouts and gale-force winds of up to 80 mph as the fast-moving storm swept through the Los Angeles Basin. Some witnesses said they spotted tornadoes in Costa Mesa and Goleta.
The force of the storm ripped several roofs off buildings, shattered windows and displaced about 40 people in San Pedro. Chest-high water gushed through the streets so quickly that it stranded drivers on the 710 Freeway in Long Beach and swallowed cars in parts of Belmont Heights.
Rescue crews spent hours in Long Beach and Orange County plucking residents out of flooded cars and homes.
Lightning struck the ConocoPhillips refinery in Wilmington, sparking a small fire in one of the stacks. Wind swept through Costa Mesa and took chunks of several buildings with it.
A possible tornado "touched down on the building across from us and ripped off the paper and insulation and flung it into the street, landed into our building and ripped the skylight off," said Charlie Rose, 29, publisher of independent music magazine L.A. Record, whose office is in Costa Mesa at Whittier Avenue and 17th Street.
At Peter’s Landing Marina in Huntington Harbor, manager Scott Seaton watched through the window as a "cyclone" came over the building and touched down in the marina. At one point, Seaton watched it pick up a 40-foot catamaran, twirl it several feet in the air, then drop it on top of another boat.
"It was just amazing watching that thing dance up in the air," Seaton said. "As quick as it came, it was gone. I can’t even imagine seeing a monster one because this thing seemed so powerful. … It was just unbelievable."
Chad Zarndt said he felt "violent shaking. I’ve never seen anything like this here in O.C."
Nearby, the tornado lifted a parked SUV and sent it crashing to the ground, shattering windows.
In Long Beach, the problem was rising water.
Isaac Chavira, 25, who lives in a two-bedroom, ground-floor apartment at 8th Street and Bennett Avenue, said he had just put his 19-month-old daughter down for a nap around noon when brown muddy water started seeping through under door. He peered out the window and saw water and debris running down the street "like a river."
Eventually, the water reached his shins.
"I kind of panicked," he said. He opened the windows and yelled, "What do I do?" to his neighbors.
It’s REALLY bad here!!! The Big one is due tomorrow and Friday. Drying out a little this weekend and then 5 more storms next week.
Here are some pictures:
Gina Kuraner watches as a street crew cleans up Blanchard Canyon Road
A weather front moves over the Los Angeles skyline as the sun sets on a stormy day in Southern California.
Waves crash into the Ventura Pier, which officials closed for public safety reasons. The surging surf loosened a piling, but the pier remains structurally sound, a city official said.
Waves crash into the protective wall behind homes on Pacific Coast Highway between Faria Road and Solimar Beach Road as high tide and large swells created heavy surf conditions while a second storm hit Southern California this week.
Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue team try to free a department vehicle stuck in a mud debris flow on Blanchard Canyon Road in the foothills of Tujunga below hills burned in the Station fire.
The view from the Seal Beach Pier on Tuesday evening. The pier was closed earlier in the day due to the high surf and wind.
A rainbow hovers over Highway 138 on the way to Palmdale as the first of three strong winter storms moves through Southern California
As heavy rains pound the foothills, Andy Dotson tries to divert the flow of mud and debris away from his garage in the 700 block of Skyland Drive in Sierra Madre.
I think those photos pretty much tell the story in So Cal. The southeastional is already getting our first storm. The National Weather Service has just issued Flash Flood, Flood, High Wind, High Surf and Tornado warnings!