Successive winter storms unleashed heavy rains in Southern California over the weekend flooding roads, freeways and homes, trapping people in swamped vehicles, mudslides and bringing down trees in the region. It made evacuation of stranded residents in several affected areas unavoidable.
The storm rained heavily for several hours with damaging effect. The frightening weekend storm added plenty of precipitation, which suddenly had its arrival in the State after years of withering drought.
The National Weather Service says the system is gaining strength Sunday and could be the strongest in at least seven years. Evacuations are ordered near wildfire burn areas in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Officials say potential debris flows could limit access for emergency responders.
Coastal areas of Los Angeles County were among the worst hit with Long Beach Airport setting a new all-time rainfall record, 3.87 inches.
The heavy downpour was too much for the local roads. Both the 110 Freeway in Carson and the 710 Freeway in Long Beach were shut down on Sunday afternoon due to extreme flooding that left cars stranded like islands in a lake.
Heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada triggered an avalanche that shut down a highway just west of Lake Tahoe. Schools were cancelled in northern Nevada after it witnessed nearly half-foot of snow fall near Reno. Several intersections in Long Beach and surrounding communities were flooded and residents reported that their parked cars were damaged due to rising rain water. Several people were rescued from their cars and thousands lost power. It is reported that the storm dumped as much as four inches of rain at some places.
Rockslides blocked the roads in Malibu and other coastal mountain areas. According to close sources, about 15 to 20 residents of ocean-front apartment units had been evacuated.
Heavy rains can cause mudslides in the burn areas caused by wildfire last year. Evacuation orders have been issued for burn areas in Glendora, Duarte, Silverado Canyon in Orange County and parts of Santa Barbara County. However, some residents in the burn areas chose to stay in their homes in order to protect their homes in case things run out of their hands.
Brett Albright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in San Diego, said the storm dumped as much as four inches of rain in some places.
The State has deployed extra emergency crews to help, including a bulldozer operator and two additional swift-water rescue teams. The epic rains wreaked something unusual in Disneyland Sunday characterised by a quiet day with small crowds. Although thunderstorm conditions were expected to come down slightly, rainfall is expected to pour until Tuesday.
The storm has caused heavy rainfall over the days along with mudslides and snow blocked major roads including Interstate 80. U.S 395 and Highway 17 the main freeway linking Silicon Valley with Santa Cruz. According to NWS (National Weather Service) the incessant storm and rainfall has seen a record-breaking wave height for the Monterey Bay of measuring 34.12 feet.
Bill Wolcott, a California State Parks public safety superintendent said, “We’ve seen very large surf, with very little break in between, and it’s that repeated beating down by the ocean that seems to be having the biggest effect on the ship this year.”