The first winter storm of 2019 has moved into Southland for the weekend, bringing with it rain, snow and some roadway flooding and mudslides on mountain slopes recently scorched by wildfires.
Forecasters estimated the strong Pacific System would bring a half-inch to an inch of rainfall across the Southern California coast and valleys and more than double that amount in higher elevations Saturday and Sunday.
Flood warnings were in effect in Los Angeles and Ventura counties Saturday night as mud and rocks cascaded onto parts of Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, where there have been recent wildfires.
Multiple vehicles were stuck in the mud Saturday night before PCH was closed in both directions from Encinal Canyon Road to west of the Los Angeles and Ventura County line at Las Posas Road, according to Malibu city officials. Caltrans crews were helping clean up mud and debris covering the road, and authorities said that work would continue into Sunday morning.
Residents in areas recently burned by wildfires — where the soil does not absorb a lot of moisture and can be prone to hazardous mudflows that carry dirt, rocks and larger debris — need to be prepared, experts warned. In Southern Calfironia, major recent fires include the Woolsey Fire, Holy Fire and Cranston Fire.
National Weather Service officials said the powerful storm is part of a moderate El Nino weather pattern that will continue to bring more precipitation to some regions of the state, with the outlook for the next few months indicating above-average rainfall.
That’s welcome news for Southern ski resorts that may celebrate 4 to 8 inches of fresh powder this weekend, and up to three feet in the northern Sierra.
“Snow could reach 40 inches in places,” NWS officials said.
Weather forecasts and warnings will not be interrupted by the ongoing federal government shutdown, NWS officials said. Updates will be provided on the agency’s website and social media feeds. Los Angeles County residents also can find out more about storm preparation and safety tips at www.lacounty.gov/larain.
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