Powerful storm floods southern California with heavy rain

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A powerful storm plagued southern California on Tuesday, inundating the drought-stricken state with desperately needed rains, but also triggering rescue efforts on a swollen river and mandatory evacuations due to the threat of mudslides in some areas marked by forest fires.

The National Weather Service reported remarkable rainfall in several parts of the state.

North of the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais has accumulated over 11 inches (28 centimeters) in 72 hours. Early Tuesday, nearly two inches of rain fell in an area of ​​Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. More than 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters) fell in 24 hours in Silverado Canyon in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, where sheriff’s deputies rescued residents of homes flooded by mudslides .

Los Angeles firefighters searched the flooded Los Angeles River on Tuesday after discovering two submerged vehicles stuck against a bridge pillar south of downtown and learned that a third vehicle had been swept past the bridge. No casualties, if any, were immediately located and firefighters were waiting for the water level to drop.

“The circumstances surrounding these three separate vehicles and their journey down the LA River remain unclear,” a statement from the fire department said.

Earlier, a man had been rescued after being swept away in a covered channel in the San Fernando Valley. The man called for help on his cell phone and the fire department reached him through a maintenance hole in the street above. He suffered from bruising and hypothermia, firefighters said.

“It’s kinda scary out there,” said Dean Heller, while filling his car’s gas tank in northeast Los Angeles. Heller said he saw a few minor car crashes and traffic on the Arroyo Seco Parkway slowed due to flooding in the tracks.

“I’m just trying to get things done so that I don’t have to be on the road anymore,” he said.

The powerful system is what is called an atmospheric river that sucks moisture from the Pacific Ocean and dumps it at lower elevations as rain and into the mountains as snow.

The storm started this weekend in northern California and brought heavy precipitation as far as Nevada, where more than 1.8 meters of snow has fallen since Sunday night at the Monte Rosa ski resort just in southwest of Reno and over 4 feet (1.2 meters) fell at Heavenly on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Mammoth Mountain in the eastern Sierra also reached around 1.2 meters.

Residents near Alisal Fire’s burn scar in Santa Barbara County, California were ordered to evacuate on Monday, fearing heavy rains could cause flooding and debris flows. The order was lifted on Tuesday afternoon.

Similar orders have been issued for people living near burn scars in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, where landslides have been reported. A mountain road to the resort town of Big Bear was scheduled to be closed until Wednesday as crews cleared several yards of mud and debris.

Avalanche warnings were in effect in Mono and Inyo counties in the eastern Sierra Nevada as snowfall, which started on Sunday, continued on Tuesday. Vail Resorts’ three Lake Tahoe area ski resorts opened Tuesday morning after heavy snowfall. Spokeswoman Sara Roston said Kirkwood Mountain Resort, which closed on Monday for security reasons, was one of them.

In Orange County, south of Los Angeles, about 800 homes in the canyon were under evacuation order on Tuesday after a flash flood warning was issued in the area burned by a wildfire in 2020.

After a downpour died down to drizzle, Lori Bright jumped up a puddle in the Highland Park neighborhood of LA, determined to take her daily steps despite the soggy weather.

“There is a lull so I decided to go for it,” Bright said. “I don’t really mind getting wet. Just happy to have rain.

She crossed her fingers in the hope that the flood might dent the drought in the state.

Jeffrey Mount, a senior researcher at the Water Policy Center at the California Institute of Public Policy, said the storm would not be a drought breaker, but water watchers are thrilled by all the snow that ‘it dumps in the Sierra Nevada.

The sleet that flows through the California watershed when the weather warms makes up about a third of the state’s water supply. It is important that a solid snow base develops in December so that storms later in winter have something to lean on, he said. Most of the reservoirs in the western United States that provide water to states, cities, tribes, farmers, and utilities depend on spring snowmelt.

“You literally put water in the bank up there,” he said.

Any moisture is essential in the wider drought-stricken region which scientists say is caused by climate change. The latest U.S. drought monitor shows parts of Montana, Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah are classified as being in exceptional drought, which is the worst category.

A second storm expected to hit California mid-week shortly after the current system went through could provide nearly continuous snow in mountainous areas, said Edan Weishahn of the Reno Weather Service, which monitors an area straddling the area. the Nevada state border.


Har reported from San Francisco. Associated Press editors Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles, Terence Chea in Oakland, Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, and Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report.

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