Friday, February 28, 2014

Rain Storm Called Strongest to Hit Southland in 3 Years

Another round of the storm is expected to push through tonight and into Saturday morning, with a threat of showers and thunderstorms continuing until tomorrow night.
The strongest storm to hit the Southland in about three years soaked much of the area with heavy rain today, sending waves of mud and debris cascading down recently burned mountainsides, forcing evacuations and prompting school closures.
About 1 to 2 inches of rain fell in much of the Los Angeles basin overnight and into this morning, with about 3 to 5 inches dousing mountain areas, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Sukup.
A flash flood warning was issued until 12:30 p.m. for the San Gabriel Mountains, including the Colby and Madison fire burn areas above Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia. The warning noted that the storm had the potential of dropping as much as an inch of rain in an hour.
A flash flood watch for most of the Southland was expected to remain in effect until Saturday night.
The NWS also issued a high surf advisory for the L.A. County coast until 5 p.m. Sunday and for the Orange County coast until 4 a.m. Monday. Warnings of coastal flooding also were issued in both counties, as were wind advisories and wind warnings.
Wind gusts in local mountains, including both the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains, are expected to reach 60 and 70 miles per hours, according to NWS forecasters, and the NWS warned motorists to guard against broken tree limbs and other debris.
Some huge wind gusts were reported in Los Angeles County this morning—80 mph at Camp Nine and 78 mph at Chilao in the San Gabriel Mountains. Near the Antelope Valley, a 71-mph gust was recorded in Acton.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Thursday for residents near burn areas in Glendora and Azusa. Monrovia issued evacuation orders today for residents below the Madison Fire burn area.
In Glendora, the order affected residents in an area north of Sierra Madre Avenue. In Azusa, the orders affected residents on Ridge View Drive. Residents of both cities were advised that they could use a newly establish evacuation center at the Crowther Teen & Family Center at 241 W. Dawson Ave. In all, more than 1,000 homes were subject to evacuation orders.
An evacuation center for Monrovia residents was set up at the Monrovia Community Center, 119 W. Palm Ave. Pets can be taken to Wonder Dog Ranch, 220 Taylor St.
Azusa police said that although there were no evacuations ordered for the Mountain Cove community, residents were being urged to take precautionary measures, including voluntary evacuations.
"Many deaths occur during a landslide when people are sleeping," according to Azusa police.
Inmates were used yesterday to fill sandbags at the Glendora City Yard on Loraine Avenue. The inmates, normally assigned to the L.A. County Jail Fire Camp Training Facility, are doing storm duty work as part of the Prisoner Assistance Community Enhancement Program, which uses non-violent offenders to assist in public service projects.
Mud began accumulating on some Glendora and Azusa streets as debris and water came pouring out of the Colby Fire burn area. Glendora city officials urged residents to heed the evacuation orders, although some residents insisted on remaining in their homes.
By late morning, the sun was actually shining in some areas, but Sukup said people shouldn't be fooled.
"There's definitely going to be more on the way," he said. "... The sun could destabilize things a little bit, which could lead to some thunderstorms. There's definitely going to be waves of rain throughout the day."
Sukup said the "band of really heavy rain" that moved through the area this morning could be repeated as another round of the storm pushes through tonight and into Saturday morning, with a threat of showers and thunderstorms continuing until tomorrow night.
Although the storm is expected to taper off after Saturday, he said there will still be a 30 to 40 percent chance of rain on Sunday.
For people heading to the Academy Awards on Sunday, Sukup recommended, "Definitely bring an umbrella."
Pasadena City College canceled afternoon classes due to the storm, while St. Lucy's Priory High School and Goddard Middle School in Glendora were also closed.
Due to potential mud and debris flows, the Los Angeles County Public Works Department closed the following roads:
-- Old San Gabriel Canyon Road from the Azusa city boundary to the Angeles National Forest;
-- Glendora Mountain Road from Big Dalton Road to East Fork Road in the Angeles National Forest; and
-- Glendora Ridge Road from Mount Baldy to Glendora Mountain Road, also in the Angeles National Forest.
Bouquet Canyon Road was scheduled to be closed in Agua Dulce today from Big Oaks Lodge to two miles north of Vasquez Canyon Road.
The roads will remain closed until the storm system has passed and the roads have been inspected.
Public Works crews were using heavy equipment to remove debris from streets in Glendora. The area is particularly vulnerable due to the 1,952-acre Colby Fire that scorched the hills above Glendora and Azusa in January. Other blazes that were causing flooding concerns were the 250-acre Madre Fire in the Angeles National Forest, also in January; the 125-acre Madison Fire in the Monrovia area in April; the 22,242-acre Powerhouse Fire in the Angeles National Forest in June; and the 28,000-acre Springs Fire in Ventura County in May.
—City News Service

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