Storm lashes California, but it’s not a drought buster
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — California was lashed Friday by heavy rains that the parched state so desperately needs, though with the soaking came traffic snarls, power outages and the threat of mudslides.
Even with rainfall totals exceeding six inches in some places by midday, the powerful Pacific storm did not put a major dent in a drought that is among the worst in recent California history.
The first waves of the storm drenched foothill communities east of Los Angeles that just weeks ago were menaced by a wildfire — and now faced the threat of mudslides. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for about 1,200 homes in the area. Small debris flows covered one street in Glendora, but no property damage occurred, police said.
Forecasters expected the storm to last through Saturday in California before trundling east into similarly rain-starved neighboring states. Phoenix was expecting its first noticeable precipitation in two months.
The threat of mudslides will last at least through Saturday night. Tornadoes and water spouts were possible as the next wave of the storm came ashore Friday.
Rainfall totals in parts of California were impressive, especially in areas that typically don’t receive much, but not nearly enough to offer long-term relief from a long-running drought.
Downtown Los Angeles received two inches before a midday reprieve, but remained about 12 inches below normal rainfall totals for the season.
“We need several large storms and we just don’t see that on the horizon. This is a rogue storm,” National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt said. “We will dry out next week.”
But for this rain, the service said, this would have been the driest December through February on record in Los Angeles.
Rain also fell in the central coast counties, the San Francisco Bay region and the Central Valley. Winter storm warnings were in effect in the Sierra Nevada for heavy snowfall.
Farmer Ray Gene Veldhuis, who grows almonds, walnuts and pistachios and runs a 2,300-cow dairy in the Central Valley’s Merced County, welcomed the wet weather but knew it would not rescue California from drought.
“Hopefully, they keep coming,” Veldhuis said of the storms. “If not, we’ll deal with the hand we’re dealt.”