Jon Baird

Storm Caught Everyone Off-Guard with Floods, Heavy Rain, Snow

December 07, 2018 - 9:12 am
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(CNS/KNX 1070) -  It was a storm that seemed to catch everyone off-guard. 

The rain on Thursday triggered problems with mud, rock slides, pouring rain that flooded streets and even snow across Southern California.

As of Friday morning, mandatory evacuations in Orange County for the Trabuco Creek area near the Holy Fire burn scar were lifted. 

Forecasters are admitting that they got this one wrong... that the storm turned out to be much stronger than they had predicted.

They had said most areas would get around half an inch of rain.

But meteorologist Curt Kaplan of the National Weather Service tells KNX they had to revise that upwards dramatically. He says the type of system involved is notoriously difficult to forecast. Kaplan quoted the late LA TV forecaster Drr. George Fischbeck who always said 'cut off lows are a weatherman's woes'.

 There was also a dramatic helicopter rescue of a man, a woman and a dog who got trapped on a makeshift island in the Santa Ana River because of flooding during yesterday's storm.

A chopper crew from the Riverside Fire Department rushed to the scene near Colton after hearing about the problem early Thursday night, and was actually able to land and take-out the stranded trio one-at-a-time.

As of Thursday afternoon, the city of Malibu said in a tweet all lanes of PCH were now open. The Grapevine also re-opened around 3 p.m. after being shut down for most of Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday, both Orange County and Riverside counties received the brunt of the rain too. In Orange County, the rain has been reported like a 'monsoon,' flooding streets for hours. 

There were mandatory evacuations Thursday in the Holy Fire burn areas: Amorose, Alberhill, Glen Ivy A, Glen Ivy B, Glen Eden, Grace, Horsethief Canyon, Laguna A, Matri, McVicker Park, Rice, Withrow A, according to Cal Fire Riverside tweet.

There was even snow elsewhere Thursday with some canyon roads in Santa Clarita Valley covered in snow. CHP officer Eric Priestman told KNX conditions can still be hazardous after the snow melts because if it's cold enough, it could turn into black ice. He saidthe best thing to do is slow down.

PCH, Woolsey Fire zone area and Grapevine:

Heavy rains has prompted a flash flood warning in the Woolsey burn zones and mudslides were reported in the area. 

CHP shut down the 5 freeway over the Grapevine because snow was beginning to fall and it is making it too treacherous for a few hours Thursday. Northbound was closed at Parker Road once the closure is in place.

Southbound was shut down at Grapevine Road. 

According to Desmond Shaw, the alternate to the Grapevine closure was the 14 to the 58 West.

The PCH was experiencing flooding and mud through the morning with officials warning to not use the canyon roads because of rock and mudslides.

There were full closures of PCH from Kanan to the LA/Ventura County line, according to the Sheriff's Department in a tweet from the city of Malibu.  Encinal Canyon was completely closed in both directions.

 The Mayor of Malibu tells KNX that residents should avoid driving on canyon roads because rocks and mud are already beginning to slide. And he says homeowners should pay attention to emergency alerts. 

There is a flood advisory in effect for the Woolsey Fire burn area until 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Caltrans says crews are working quickly to clean up the mud and debris on PCH and other nearby roads. Caltrans spokesman Jim Medina tells KNX equipment like backhoes were already in the area so crews were able to start work quickly. He says the crews have been in the area for the past few weeks preparing for the rain by clearing storms drains and fortifying hillsides.

CHP Officer Man Tran tells KNX that patrols are dealing with more than four times the usual number of incidents on the freeways. He calls on people to drive with caution.

Showers will douse the Southland for a second straight day today, likely causing another messy commute.

 A thunderstorm may develop over the Southland this afternoon, said National Weather Service Curt Kaplan.

With scattered showers having fallen in several areas overnight, this morning's commute was likely to be challenging, as was the case Wednesday, when, according to the California Highway Patrol, there were 119 accidents reported on Los Angeles County freeways between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., compared to 93 under dry conditions a week earlier. Forecasters said motorists must be particularly vigilant on canyon roads.

Today's forecast remained for between a half inch and an inch-and-a- half of rain.

In mountain areas, the slow-moving low-pressure system will bring snow to higher elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties through late this evening, according to the NWS.

Forecasters aid six inches of snow would fall above 6,500 feet, 10 inches above 7,500 feet and one to two inches between 5,500 and 6,500 feet. At the same time, the mountains will be swept by winds of 15-25 miles per hour, with 40-mph gusts.

A winter weather advisory will be in force in the San Gabriels until midnight.

Forecasters urged motorists to brace for slippery road conditions but said snow would not be an issue along the Interstate 5 corridor through the Tejon Pass and the Grapevine.

The NWS forecast showers in L.A. County today and highs of 47 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 48 on Mount Wilson; 52 in Saugus; 56 in Yorba Linda; 59 in Burbank; 60 in San Gabriel, Pasadena and Woodland Hills; 61 in downtown L.A. and at LAX; 62 in Long Beach and Avalon. Temperatures will be up to eight degrees warmer Friday.

Showers were also forecast in Orange County, along with highs of 43 on Santiago Peak; 50 in Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 56 in Yorba Linda; 59 in Anaheim and Mission Viejo; 60 in Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Fullerton and Irvine; and 61 in Newport Beach. Friday's temperatures will be up to nine degrees higher.