The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Storm leaves muddy mess on California foothill homes; rain, snow moving eastward

  • Print
Storm water flows into a debris basin in Altadena, Calif., as thunderstorms dump rain on the San Gabriel Mountains on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Residents of some 1,200 homes in three foothill cities to the east were under evacuation orders due to danger of debris flows from steep slopes burned bare by recent wildfires. (AP Photo/ John Antczak)

Enlarge Image

Storm water flows into a debris basin in Altadena, Calif., as thunderstorms dump rain on the San Gabriel Mountains on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Residents of some 1,200 homes in three foothill cities to the east were under evacuation orders due to danger of debris flows from steep slopes burned bare by recent wildfires. (AP Photo/ John Antczak)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A thunderstorm that brought sorely-needed rain to California is winding down after sending mudslides down foothill communities, flooding roadways and opening up sinkholes.

Evacuation orders remained in effect for hundreds of homes in Los Angeles County foothill communities where fires have burned away vegetation that holds soil in place, and bursts of rain caused the mountains to belch occasional debris flows.

The storm marked a sharp departure from many months of drought that has grown to crisis proportions for the state's vast farming industry. However, such storms would have to become common to make serious inroads against the drought, weather forecasters have said.

The heavy band of rain drenched parts of the state throughout Saturday before tapering off by nighttime. While the danger of mudslides was subsiding, officials urged residents who left their homes as much as three days earlier to stay away until Sunday morning.

"The good news is that it looks like the storm will pass ... but we still need to evaluate the safety of the area" before people can return home, Assistant Chief Steve Martin of the Los Angeles County Fire Department told a webcast news conference.

The National Weather Service said the storm is forecast to move east over the Rockies and into the Plains and Mississippi Valley through Sunday, bringing a hodgepodge of precipitation. Colorado's ski resorts could see up to 6 inches of fresh snow. A mixture of sleet and snow in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois will eventually change over to all snow — with up to 8 inches forecast for Kansas City and the St. Louis area — while northern Arkansas will see freezing rain. The system also has its sights set on the Appalachians and the East Coast into Monday.

The storm's eastward move on Saturday finally broke a 70-day streak without precipitation in the Phoenix area. An 85-day spell of no measureable rainfall in Las Vegas ended Friday. Rain and snow also finally came to drought-stricken New Mexico. In Denver, a highway pileup involving more than 100 vehicles killed one person and injured 30 others as heavy snow fell Saturday, authorities said.

In California, about 1,200 houses in the adjacent cities of Azusa and Glendora as well as nearby Monrovia were under evacuation orders because of the possibility of destructive flows from the San Gabriel Mountains, a rugged range largely covered by the Angeles National Forest.

In Azusa, 3- to 10 feet of mud buried Ed Heinlein's backyard, swallowing a metal fence and reaching up to the rim of a basketball hoop.

"We've got to find a way to get the 100 tons of mud out of my backyard," Heinlein told the Los Angeles Times. "We're probably looking at tens of thousands of dollars in damage."

Forecasters predicted only showers in California on Sunday as the storm heads east — a lucky break for the evening's Oscar red carpet festivities in Hollywood.

The storm was the much more powerful second act of two systems that hit California during the week.

Downtown San Francisco received 8.01 inches of rain by Saturday evening, bringing the city to 44 per cent of its normal rainfall but avoiding the city's driest-ever "rain year" record by roughly half an inch, NWS meteorologist Matt Mehle said. The driest year was in 1851, with just 7.42 inches. The rain year begins July 1.

"All this rain has been really helpful but we are still behind the curve in terms of the drought," Mehle said.

Downtown Los Angeles tallied 4.34 inches from the second storm by 5 p.m. Saturday, said NWS meteorologist Joe Sirard in Oxnard. That raised the rainfall total to 5.54 inches since July 1, still 6.19 inches below normal.

In the Hollywood hills, a mudslide took down a tree which knocked down a power pole, leaving homes in the neighbourhood in the dark late Saturday.

Other trouble spots included about 13 homes that were evacuated Friday night in the Lake Hughes area in northern Los Angeles County after a mudslide closed a major road. To the east in San Bernardino County, a levee failed and put eight houses in danger of serious flooding, but county fire crews were working to protect them and no evacuations were ordered.

In Santa Barbara County, strong waves sent water crashing into a beachside restaurant in Goleta and three boats onto the sand and a pier, county fire Capt. Martin Johnson said. The restaurant's manager told KEYT-TV that one of his employees was swept out into the ocean and underneath the pier, where he was able to get out of the water. Another employee was pushed back inside the restaurant by a rogue wave but was not seriously hurt.

A fierce wave also broke the windows of a restaurant on the Santa Barbara pier.

At the north end of Monterey Bay, strong waves apparently broke through the foundation of a seaside home, creating a blowhole on the driveway and shooting water over the roof. Also, a stretch of the oceanfront drive in Santa Cruz was shut down Saturday after a large sinkhole appeared in a cliff, opening the roof of a cave where homeless people have lived. Authorities said public works was investigating.

The storm was so volatile that a tornado warning was issued early Saturday for suburbs east of Los Angeles.

Numerous traffic accidents occurred on slick or flooded roads across California, including one about 60 miles east of Los Angeles involving a big rig whose driver died after falling from a freeway overpass. The Fresno County sheriff's office also reported a man was injured by lightning Friday.

Utilities repaired numerous scattered power outages.

___

Associated Press writer Garance Burke contributed to this report from San Francisco. Martha Mendoza reported from Santa Cruz. Tami Abdollah reported from Los Angeles.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google