Pacific storm triggers street flooding, slides, snarls traffic
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Pacific storm soaked Southern California for a second consecutive day Monday, causing street flooding, triggering small mudslides, spawning heavy surf and a damaging tornado-like wind while snow blanketed the mountains.
Despite light traffic because of the Presidents Day holiday, California Highway Patrol officials reported more than 400 accidents by late afternoon – twice the normal volume.
”It just kind of hit too hard, too fast,” CHP Officer Rosa Ray said.
Los Angeles city and county fire departments reported numerous incidents of street flooding. Mud and water flowed off a burned area of the San Gabriel Mountains above suburban Arcadia but city crews largely kept the flow from damaging property.
The National Weather Service said a large low-pressure system and cold front associated with the storm produced heavy rain across southwestern areas of the state, setting new records for the date, including 2.18 inches at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1.59 inches in Pasadena and 1.06 inches at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.
Storm totals from early Sunday through 4 p.m. Monday included 3.02 inches at Santa Barbara Airport, 2.5 inches at Oxnard, 3.54 inches at Ventura, 1.92 inches in downtown Los Angeles, and 6.71 inches on Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Elsewhere in the state, snow fell as low as 5,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada and conditions were windy along Interstate 80 and U.S. 50. Rain, heavy at times, fell at lower elevations. Cold rain, heavy at times, fell across Central California, including the Sacramento Valley.
The storm was expected to clear out during the night, but another Pacific storm was following close behind and might hit the region as early as Tuesday night, forecasters said.
In Anaheim, residents reported that a funnel cloud damaged 25 houses, tore a camper shell off a pickup and blew a big tree into the living room of one old house, said city spokesman Bret Colson.
”The important thing was no one was injured so despite the damage we consider ourselves lucky,” Colson said.
On the roads, a woman was killed and four people seriously injured in an apparent weather-related crash shortly after 3 p.m. in La Mirada that involved two cars and a truck. Another person died when a Volkswagen Jetta plunged over the side of the eastbound 90 Freeway during a heavy downpour about 3:40 p.m.
Interstate 5 near Paramount flooded during the early afternoon and was closed for just over an hour.
In the San Gabriel Mountains, Angeles Forest Highway was closed by the Forest Service at midafternoon.
Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesman Brian Humphrey said firefighters plucked about a dozen motorists from stranded cars in incidents scattered around the city.
In Orange County, Pacific Coast Highway was blocked by flooding in Huntington Beach.
Scattered electrical outages were reported throughout the region.