Wednesday’s sunny skies are expected to give way to clouds and rain by Thursday night, raising fears of flooding and possible mudflows in recent burn areas.
“The heaviest rain is expected to occur Thursday night through Friday morning when rainfall rates could reach a half-inch per hour, meeting the very low end of the (U.S. Geological Survey) criteria for mud and debris flows over the Whittier, Thomas, Creek and La Tuna burn areas,” according to the National Weather Service.
“The south-facing mountain slopes from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles counties will be most at risk for heavy rain due to the strong south to southwest winds expected. After the main front goes through Friday morning, showers are expected to continue off and on through Saturday, though intensities during this time are expected to be less than a quarter-inch per hour and not pose any risk to burn areas,” forecasters said.
Burbank city officials were distributing sandbags Wednesday to residents hoping to protect their properties from flooding or mud flows from the La Tuna fire burn area. Several vehicles and homes were damaged in a January mudslide on Country Club Drive.
A flash flood watch will be in effect in the Los Angeles County mountains, excluding the Santa Monica Range, and the San Fernando Valley from Thursday night through Friday afternoon, with the La Tuna fire burn area and Creek fire burn area near Sylmar at particular risk.
A winter storm watch will also be in effect from Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning for the Los Angeles County mountains, excluding the Santa Monica range, with heavy snow and gusty winds expected.
“Total snow accumulations of 12 inches or more (are) possible above 7,000 feet, with accumulations of 6 to 12 inches down to 6,000 feet,” according to the NWS. “Lighter amounts can be expected as low as 4,500 feet Friday night. Gusty south to southwest winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph can be expected Thursday night through Friday evening.”
The NWS advised motorists to prepare for reduced visibility thanks to the wind and blowing snow.
Rescuers have been “highly focused” as usual in their rain preparations, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
“We don’t want any property damage but the greatest concern is for public safety,” he said.
Flood control channels, washes, arroyos and storm drains can become deadly when it rains and children are especially drawn to the novelty of rising and rushing water, he warned, adding that trying to rescue a person or pet is dangerous and should be left to public safety personnel.
“The outcomes historically have been terrible,” Humphrey said.
Highly trained swiftwater rescue teams will be at the ready and deployed as needed, he said.
“This is not a startling occurrence to us,” he said. “We know it rains typically at this time of year.”
Humphrey also advised the public to heed the words of lifeguards, public health officials and others when visiting area beaches, including in the days after rains have stopped, due to concerns over rough surf, bacteria and debris.
–City News Service
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