The Biggest Storms in 5 years Hit Southern California
Southern California cleaned up Saturday after its biggest storm in 5 years unleashed a waves of rain and snow that killed at least 3 people and triggered flooding, mudslides, high winds and power outages, officials said.
Vital highways and railways were shut down and sinkholes opened on main roads under the heaviest rainfall in the drought-stricken region in at least 5 years, according to the National Weather Service.
In one of wettest spots near Santa Barbara, over 10 ins (25 cm) of rain fell on Friday with several other stations in Southern California reporting at least 9 ins (23 cm), said meteorologist Patrick Burke of the Weather Prediction Center.
“It’s been a very active winter and rainy season for the entire state of California,” Mr. Burke said. “They needed that because of the drought. But sometimes droughts end with a flood and we have gone from one extreme to the other.”
Parts of Southern California have been the slowest to exit the drought. But the state’s reservoirs are 22% more full than the average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Since October 1st, downtown Los Angeles has received more than 18 ins (46 cm) of rain, which is higher than the total annual average of just under 15 ins.
By Saturday afternoon, the storm had moved east into Nevada and Arizona. Northern California will be walloped with more rain and snow beginning on Sunday, with 4 to 8 ins (10 cm to 20 cm) of precipitation expected in the coastal mountains, Mr. Burke said.
Meanwhile, utility crews worked to restore electricity to tens of thousands of customers affected by power outages throughout the Los Angeles area on Saturday.
One man died Friday after he was electrocuted by a downed wire, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Another person was found dead in a submerged vehicle in Victorville, about 85 miles (137 km) northeast of Los Angeles, fire officials said.
And the body of a man was discovered on Saturday morning in a creek in Thousand Oaks, 40 miles (64 km) west of downtown Los Angeles, after he was swept away by floodwaters, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said.
Local television news also showed video footage of a San Bernardino County fire truck tumbling over the side of a freeway as the road gave out.
“All firefighters confirmed safe,” the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
The storm also brought unusually strong winds. At the Port of Los Angeles, gusts as high as 75 mph (121 km/h) were recorded Friday.
Amtrak railroad service was suspended from Los Angeles north to San Luis Obispo Saturday due to extreme weather conditions, according to the transportation service’s website
Editor’s Note: The California Winter meteorological season runs from December 1 – February 28/29. Due to delay in data reporting, data from previous few days is subject to update and change. Normal values are defined for the period 1981-2010.
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